Girl has interest in wine.
Boy wants to stay connected with the country
where he and four previous generations grew up.
Boy says to girl, “I can grow wine for you”.
Girl marries boy and the rest is history.
My great great grandfather, Ralph Cottam, came to the Tumbarumba district from Lancashire, UK in 1858. He took up land in an area known as Upper Adelong and raised cattle.
One of his sons, my great grandfather Ralph, took up land at Lower Bago, a little closer to Tumbarumba and also raised cattle. A butchery was set up on the property and meat was delivered by packhorse to the many small gold mining camps in the mountains to the east. My grandfather Edmund (Ted) carried on this line of business eventually establishing a butcher shop in the village of Tumbarumba and a small abattoir on the outskirts of town.
Following his death after a riding accident, his wife Gertrude took over running the business and was a very successful businesswoman in a time when business was dominated by males.
On her death, my father Tom took over the butcher shop and ran the business until 1989.
I moved to Canberra for work in 1972 but always had a strong connection to the mountains and to working the land. By the mid 1980’s I knew that I wanted to establish a vineyard at Tumbarumba, ideally on the land owned by my grandfather and father – the butchers block!
By 1989 my wife Elvie and I had leased 20 acres of the 100 acre holding and in 1990 we planted our first vines. In 2010 we purchased the property and now raise cattle as well as growing premium cool climate grapes and producing fine wines.
‘On the fly’ describes how our vineyard has evolved since 1988. We raised children and managed full-time jobs in Canberra while we set up and managed our Tumbarumba property, some three hours drive away. Richard studied viticulture at Charles Sturt University and then taught viticulture at Canberra Institute of Technology and other venues for about eight years. A number of years working outside Australia in New Zealand gave us a good perspective of kiwi cool climate winegrowing but presented some logistical challenges for managing the Tumbarumba vineyard.
‘On the fly' also relates to Richard’s passion for fly fishing for wild trout. We are very fortunate to be in close proximity to some great mountain wilderness areas and whenever we can we love to get away camping, bushwalking and most importantly, flyfishing, in this wild and beautiful part of Australia.
The brown trout head and tail on our front and back labels are from original watercolour and gouache artwork by renowned Australian fishing and wildlife illustrator/artist Trevor Hawkins.