THE FULL CIRCLE TWISTED TALE
It has been a full circle journey with a few hairpin turns along the way for the owners of Twisted River Wines, Michelle Davies and Helen Armstrong. The couple have retired to Valla in the Nambucca Valley, on the Mid North Coast of NSW after fulfilling a life-long dream to own their own vineyard.
Now, rather than spending their days with their hands in the earth or tending to vines, you will find them sharing the fruits of their toil at all the best markets along with the popular food and wine events throughout the East Coast and beyond.
The Twisted River Wines story began in a low yielding vineyard nestled on the edge of the Goobang remnant forest near Manildra in the renowned cool climate wine region of the NSW Central Ranges.
Owners Michelle Davies and Helen Armstrong established the multi award winning boutique vineyard with the shared vision of producing exceptional grapes and wine.
In a world of low quality, fast everything – Michelle and Helen were determined to go against the grain to deliver quality rarely seen… but valued by many. According to the couple, it was less visionary and more tenacious dedication that set the tone for their wines.
Through a combination of sheer effort and enduring friendships - they have produced outstanding cool climate examples that beautifully express the unique appeal of the single vineyard.
During the fourteen years on the vineyard their aim was to meet the highest grape growing standards and produce grapes and wine that truly reflect the terroir of the vineyard. Their reward… low yielding, high quality grapes ripening slowly to reveal intense flavours, acidity, and balance. Twisted River Wines are known for their elegance and versatility with medium-bodied forward fruit flavours that are crisp, bright, and vibrant.
Along with the Twisted River Wines flagships - Shiraz and Viognier, Twisted River offers exceptional Cabernet Merlot, Rosé, Chardonnay and Tawny.
While the vision of harvesting grapes to the soothing sounds of Vivaldi remained a dream right up until their retirement from the vineyard in mid-2021, the determination to produce nothing but the finest wine continues to bring its own rewards.
This is the Twisted River Wines story…
ABOUT TWISTED RIVER WINES - FROM THE BUSH TO THE BEACH
Following a vine calling…
Having a background in health and palliative care may seem like a long way from strapping on your boots and heading out to work in a vineyard every day.
Caring for those at the end stage of their lives is not for everyone. It’s definitely a calling and a unique ability. For Helen, the calling was also there to nurture a vine after forming a deep appreciation for the industry in her childhood.
“It’s just one of the things I’ve always wanted to do – own a vineyard,” Helen outlined. “Mum and Dad loved their wine and all roads led to the Hunter when we were growing up on the Central Coast.”
“One thing that palliative care teaches you is that life is often very short and if you have a dream – you need to follow it,” Michelle explained.
And follow it they did! As the legend goes… an off the cuff remark by Helen over a bottle of wine was perfectly timed and a few months later they were the owners of the vineyard.
Why buy the vineyard when you can buy the bottle?
For anyone who had the pleasure of visiting Twisted River Wines when Michelle and Helen were in residence, it’s obvious why they fell in-love with the place. The 250 acres bordered the Goobang National Park along the Henry Parkes Way (between Orange and Parkes). Apart from the 14acre vineyard – it featured untouched native bush.
“We instantly fell in love with the place,” explained Helen. “When you love where you are and what you do – I believe it shines through in what you produce.”
From floods & frost to fabulous wines…
The first year was one of the toughest with the vineyard’s boundary on the west perimeter (Coates Creek) seeing the worst flood in 100 years. The second year saw a sweet combination of flood, frost, and the resulting plant health issues.
Persistence paid off by 2012 with their reputation growing – a Gold medal and the UPM Raflatac and Impresstik Encouragement trophy at the Orange Wine Show for the 2011 Shiraz.
The accolades continued with medals for all subsequent vintages, including the Champion Wine of Show for the Shiraz Viognier 2013 at the 2014 National Cool Climate Wine Show.
By 2014, Twisted River Wines was not only shining on the wine stage but was also awarded the Daroo Award for Best New Business and Excellence in Tourism by Cabonne Shire Council.
The Twisted River Shiraz quickly establishing itself as a hero wine. The 2016 Shiraz Viognier was awarded two trophies - one being best Shiraz at the 2017 Australian Boutique Wine Awards and best red blend at the Australian Single Vineyard Wine Show. In total, three of their Shiraz were awarded 10 trophies and 14 gold medals between them.
Wines of flavour, intensity & elegance!
The diverse geology at Twisted River provided ideal soil for vines and was complemented by an elevation of 650 meters.
All vines were hand-pruned and picked, adhering to a strict benchmark that aimed to maintain the wine’s growing reputation for quality and consistency.
“The vineyard’s cool climate was important to our business because it allowed grapes to ripen relatively slowly over a longer period than in warmer, more continental regions,” Helen outlined.
“This slower ripening, in turn, resulted in fruit that had more intense flavours, more acidity and better balance which combine to make wines of flavour, intensity and elegance.
“Twisted River’s high elevation, cool climate wines are medium-bodied. The fruit flavours are more forward, which makes the wines crisp, bright and vibrant.
“We grew Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot, Viognier, Chardonnay and Muscat. Some of the vines were nearly 30 years old – which was a great age to be producing fine wines.”
Talented wine makers… terrific friends… true tenacity.
Helen puts Twisted River Wines’ success down to the talented wine makers which included Chris Derrez and Lucy Maddox. Both were terrific friends who showed enduring support and true tenacity in the process.
“We had a dream and the determination to succeed,” Helen outlined. “Twisted River Wines would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the fantastic support of friends and the skills of our gifted wine makers.”