So, Jamie & Steph – you gave up your previous careers to start Vine & Country. Can you talk us through that process?
Well, it all started in a dusty office somewhere in the middle of the desert on a Western Australian mine site back in 2012. It was 45oC outside and I was working on an underground mining project 450km from the nearest town and from my window a vast horizon of bushy scrub in any direction. For me, in that career and in that time and place that view quickly became a metaphor for the rest of my life. I was 27 and I could see my entire life mapped out in front of me, and the mundanity of that idea, however easy and comfortable, was unsettling.
For Steph, that office happened to be in down town New York but with a skyline that offered no less of the same epiphany. Change is the strongest control we have on our futures, the opportunity to shake things up and create some exciting chaos in our lives is always there and it makes life much more vibrant.
I was very fortunate to be where I was though; I was living in Perth, when not off mining, and surrounded by the vibrant wine regions of the Swan Valley, the Bickley Valley, and the famous Margaret River. During my breaks I would inevitably head off exploring them, self-driving sometimes but often I’d join a tour from an independent guided tour company. I was always big on enjoying wine and I’ve been a passionate foodie from a young age, but I’d never experienced wine at source before.
Over there it’s amazing, the tour industry which has grown-up in support of the local vineyard regions is deeply established and it’s been made so easy for anyone with a little curiosity to jump on a guided tour from anywhere in Perth and the rest of the day is taken care of for you. It’s almost a no brainer and always a fantastic day out. It was from those initial days that my love and interest in wine and the people behind it grew; hearing their stories and their passion and the great degree of time worn skill it takes to produce it brought the wines to life. It was a huge eye opener, there’s so much nuance from one vineyard to another and the knowledge of how to make great wine from the vines planted on it is only earnt through time spent as their custodians, season to season, it was fascinating. It was such a human story as much as a story of good wine making and I dig anything that demands passion and good old fashion know how to do.