In a world of low quality, fast everything – it’s nice to come across a producer going against the grain to deliver quality rarely seen… but valued by many.
The revolution is finally here. Preceding it is Twisted River Wines of Manildra. According to vignerons Helen Armstrong and Michelle Davies – it is less visionary and more tenacious dedication to quality that sets the tone for their unique cool climate wines.
Maintaining the high standard, they have set for themselves in grape growing and wine making over the past 8 years has been their mantra.
Their reward… low yielding, high quality grapes ripening slowly to reveal intense flavours, acidity and balance in the creation of a wine renowned for elegance and versatility and described as medium-bodied forward fruit flavours that are crisp, bright and vibrant.
This is their story…
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 owner of the vineyard.
For anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting Twisted River Wines it is obvious why Michelle and Helen fell in-love with the place. The 250 acres borders the Goobang National Park and is located on the Henry Parkes Way (between Orange and Parkes). Apart from the 14 acre vineyard – it is 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.”
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.
Each vintage since has also been stellar with their Shiraz quickly establishing itself as their hero wine. Their latest released 2016 Shiraz awarded 2 trophies one being best shiraz at the 2017 Australian Boutique Wine Awards & best red blend at the Australian Single Vineyard Wine Show. In total three of their Shiraz have between them been award 10 trophies and 14 gold medals.
The diverse geology at Twisted River provides ideal soil for vines and is complemented by an elevation of 650 meters.
All vines are hand-pruned and picked, adhering to a strict benchmark that aims to maintain the wine’s growing reputation for quality and consistency.
“Our vineyard’s cool climate is important to our business because it allows grapes to ripen relatively slowly over a longer period than in warmer, more continental regions,” Helen outlined.
“This slower ripening, in turn, results in fruit that has 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 grow Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot, Viognier, Chardonnay and Muscat. Some of the vines are 26 years old – a great age to be producing fine wines.”
Helen puts Twisted River Wines’ success down to talented wine makers in Chris Derrez and Lucy Maddox, terrific friends for their enduring support and true tenacity.
“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.”