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February (No. 493)


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Everything, including the kitchen sink

Michele and Alastair Graham , Bou-saada Vineyard & Wines, Southern Highlands, NSW

Cradled in the high ranges above Mittagong in the Southern Highlands, an hour’s drive from Sydney, is Bou-saada Vineyard & Wines, the latest cellar door to open in this new cool-climate wine region.

We began this venture by planting Sauvignon Blanc in 1997 followed by Merlot, Riesling and Chardonnay in 1998. The idea of an Australian contemporary-style cellar door was born in 2000 when we were preparing a 3.2ha area for planting Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo.

Several well-established eucalypts needed to come down, so we called in a mobile miller to cut and mill the soft and hardwood timbers. These we stockpiled and dried, for three years until they were ready for use in the construction of our cellar door in January 2004.

We briefed our local graphic designer, Alan Purdom, to draw up a simple design which would incorporate our vision of a building with “clean lines, high poles” and one which was “light-filled.” From there, the building evolved.

We made decisions daily on use of material, beginning with an extra-thick north-facing polished concrete slab in a raffia beige colour.

Eight huge ironbark poles sourced from Grafton support the centre beam and tower in a design which is based on an Arabic wind tunnel for cooling. The Arabic idea harks back to Alastair’s travels to the Middle-East as an airline pilot. The wind tunnel concept is used widely there for cooling the buildings.

Eight-metre-high windows are still to have a computerised motor installed for opening and closing when the temperature requires. So far, however, the new Rytek product we used for the roof (double-sided galvanised iron with 10cm of polystyrene insulation inside) keeps the inside temperature comfortable.

Since opening on the Queen's Birthday, long weekend in June 2004 we have experienced the usual Highlands winter, with temperatures as low as -2C and days as high as 35C in December 2004.
We’re happy to say the environment inside the cellar during these extremes, however, has remained stable. On the hot days the temperature sits between 23 and 25degC while the slow-combustion heater on the winter days provides a constant comfortable temperature."

Because the roofing is structural no rafters have been used and the steel ties requested by Council have been painted black to make a feature, complementing the use of stainless steel and timber.

Two wonderful slabs of Blakely’s Red Gum form the counter atop a mini-orb front in the main tasting area. In the side room with fire, separated by an old French garden gate, a communal tasting/dining table has been made from a magnificent piece of Stringy Bark timber also from our farm. This is the appropriate height to accommodate people with disabilities for wine tasting and the open plan and space make wheelchair access easy. Two old French Silky Oak pews match the free-standing table.

To make sure nothing was wasted, a 30-year-old piece of Jarrah from our old kitchen and the kitchen sink have been refurbished for use as the work bench behind the main counter.

An ultra-clear unit recycles all waste-water from the cellar and house and we use this water to irrigate the grass and gardens around the facility. Leucadendrons have been used in the landscaping to supplement proteas grown in the one-acre plantation next to the vineyard. We sell these as cut-flowers through our cellar door.

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