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29th - 30th May 2010

Cassilis Estate……………………

The Beginning:

In March 2009 we took ownership of 4 ½ acres in the ‘high country’ in Cassilis, near Omeo. We purchased the land from Christine and Howard Reddish, the owners of Mt Markey Winery.

The block had much to offer us with an existing vineyard, some established trees and shrubs, boundary fences and two dams. The block is surrounded by beautiful views of the Cassilis valley to the east and west and rolling hills leading up to the mountains on the south and north side. Behind our block is Crown Land which is then bordered by State Forest. The block is only 40 minutes from Mt Hotham and the Dinner Plans ski fields.

Our vision is to build a beautiful home of mudbrick which is energy efficient and has a quality finish maximising recycled materials where possible but featuring the local stone and integrating natural products where possible. We intend to work the land to make our own wine and cider, grow vegetables, develop a beautiful landscaped garden and enjoy the lifestyle such a location can offer us. It is essential for us to create a home where our three sons can feel connected with and enjoy visiting with their own family and friends. We anticipate many gatherings, with good food and good wine, where we can enjoy the fruits of our labour.

Our first vintage!

Howard and Rickey crushing    the Pinot Noir

Over the last year we have learnt much about the process of winemaking with our invaluable mentors being Howard and Christine. They have been very generous with their time and knowledge and have assisted us in all the stages of managing the vineyard, pruning, harvesting, crushing and finally developing our first vintage, which we sampled yesterday (Saturday, 29th May). We have a blended white of Traminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris. Our vineyard currently contains about 800 vines with a range of grapes and we look forward to the range of wine this will produce.

We have purchased 120 apple trees to plant in rows using an espalier system which will allow us to cover with nets hopefully reducing bird damage. The apples will be used for making cider.







Getting the gear:

We have ordered a tractor and are eagerly awaiting it to begin landscaping, to prepare the house site and to make our mudbricks. In our first mudbrick house, which we built in Yulecart, near Hamilton, our bricks were made using 2 individual moulds. The use of a tractor will enable us to make multiple bricks hopefully in a shorter time, which is a better outcome 20 years on. The tractor will have a range of implements and it is tempting to keep adding to them when we know the tasks ahead of us. Rick has now retired from 31 years in the Commonwealth Public Service and we are now able to move forward with our plans to build.

Finding an Architect:

We decided to appoint an Architect to design our home as we wanted to create something special as the final home we build. Rick spent hours exploring webpages to find someone with a similar philosophy as us and we have been really pleased to commission Soft Loud Architects, with Alvyn Williams, the senior Architect. Soft Loud Architects are located in Warburton and we visited Alvyn about 4 weeks ago for our initial consultation. We love his designs and were very appreciative of him showing us his beautiful straw bale house which has just been completed.

Alvyn spent last weekend with us at the house site in Cassilis discussing our plans, how we like to live and what options we may have in building our home. We have many challenges in building in this location which include the potential of bushfires, water issues, steep site, remoteness, alpine conditions, high temperatures in summer and south facing.

Alvyn gives us confidence and insights which will allow us to build a beautiful home which reflects us and how we live. We are also very pleased to discover his consideration for landscapes, history and setting, ensuring the home will work well with its surroundings.



Last Updated on Thursday, 03 June 2010 08:17