Tania Bray at the gate to Walkers Hill Vineyard. Lake Grace Hospital’s health services manager Colleen Hopkins receives the $1500 cheque from Tania Bray and son Connor.
Nanjing Night Net

JARED and Tania Bray formally opened the gates of their winery on Saturday, April 28, amid a relaxed atmosphere of wine tasting, cheese platters, coffee and cake.

With winter sports fixtures and other demands on people’s time, Mrs Bray knew they wouldn’t be inundated for the opening and, with the first customers driving through the gate at 11am, it was a positive start to what was an enjoyable day.

Since their opening they have had others dropping in to see what wine Walkers Hill has for sale.

Wines available for sale at the vineyard are the 2008, 2009 and 2011 shiraz and 2011 chardonnay.

The 2012 chardonnay will be available by about July with the 2012 rosé available in time for Christmas.

By changing the name to Walkers Hill Vineyard, the Bray family has recognised the significance of the vineyard’s origin.

The vines were originally planted in 1995 with Bill and Angela Walker bottling their first vintage in 1998.

Following that first vintage Mr Walker enjoyed plenty of success and recognition, winning many awards along the way.

With the Brays’ only experience of grapes being a backyard grapevine and their only knowledge of wine being how to pour it from the bottle, it has been a steep but enjoyable learning curve for them and their young family.

The vineyard has no shortage of jobs that need doing as there are more than 2700 vines on the seven-and-a-half acres.

Pruning is now staring the Brays in the eye, a task that will begin in four to six weeks and take them about four weeks to complete, weather permitting.

Throughout the year there is the ongoing task of making sure that watering systems are working, fertiliser programs followed through and an eye kept out for pest and disease.

However the opportunity to nurture and develop their own produce and then sell the end product to wine lovers is giving them a good feeling.

The tasting room is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am-4pm or by appointment by calling 0447 651 418.

In the future the Brays plan to build an outdoor area with barbecue facilities.

They will be able to host reverse BYOs, where the customers brings their own food to eat while tasting the locally grown wine.

For future grape picks the Bray family will choose a local community group to donate funds to in lieu of the time put in by volunteers to help pick the produce.

This year $1500 was donated to the local hospital from the shiraz pick.

The Brays feel the hospital is a worthwhile recipient, as it is a facility within the Lake Grace community that everyone is grateful to have, whether they’re regular patrons or not.

The Tarin Rock Tennis Club put in a huge effort, taking the honours for the chardonnay pick.

The Brays will be buying shade covers to be used for the junior tennis tournaments for the club’s efforts.

The Brays thanked Bill Walker for his continued support and help with the vineyard; his knowledge is invaluable to them and greatly appreciated.

They also thanked Sarah Allen for her efforts in designing their signs and the 2012 vintage labels that will be seen on the 2012 chardonnay and rosé.

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