Below & Above | Pemberton
This month, we spoke to Kia and John - the duo behind Below & Above wine. Set in the hills of Pemberton, the Below & Above team produce a phenomenal trio of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay. They also produce truffels on their second farm and regularly host events that showcase their quality produce - from below and above the ground.
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What are the origins of Below & Above, how did it all begin?
We love Pinot and Truffles and started holidaying in the region during the winter period. IN 2012 an existing vineyard in the best wine growing part of our region came up for sale. So we put in a very low offer not really knowing whether we would continue to grow grapes or pull them out.
Our first vintage came along in 2013 and the pinot noir grapes were going to be left and not picked as we couldn’t find a buyer for them. As our neighbours grow beautiful pinot we knew our grapes would produce a high quality wine so we found Bruce Dukes a very well respected wine maker and asked him to make our grapes. He was very excited on the prospect of working with us as he had used grapes in the mid 90’s from our property. So we started making Pinot & Merlot then in 2014 we added Chardonnay to our range. 9 years later we now sell every grape we grow and have waitlist for our Pinot Noir. To think that Pinot Noir in 2013 was not a popular grape...!
We keep the best 10% of grapes we grow and the rest are sold to various national and local wine labels.
In 2014 we purchased a second property with the idea of producing truffles. We have found our first truffle last season and are slowly becoming a truffle producer.
Are you both full time on the farm? What's your hobby job in the city?
Unfortunately we do not live at the vineyard. We have two full time managers and various casual staff. Kia works in our business looking after all the sales & marketing. John looks after the accounts and oversee's the growing & wine making. He is also on a couple of boards in the city, so overseeing our little business keeps him very busy. Our business is more than a hobby, it’s our passion, our love.
Each and every one of your bottle labels is unique - as each bottle is numbered and the total number of bottles produced in the vintage is listed.
- Why do you do this and does this influence which bottles you personally keep/drink?
What makes Below & Above wines special?
We aim to bring you the best of Below the ground (the truffle) and Above the ground (the wines). A lot of love and care goes into producing each bottle. Our vineyard practices reflect this, we do not take short cuts nor use harsh chemicals. We have the belief that healthy vines produce the best quality wines and are finessed in the winery by Bruce. We handpick, hand prune all our grapes. Every decision we make in the vineyard is with the question is this in the best interest of both the plant and how will this affect the grapes.
We also sell our wines bottle aged as we have the philosophy why go to all the effort in producing a bottle to have it drunk way too early in the wine’s life. We also want to be known a consistent producer in 2016 we didn’t produce any reds as we were not happy with the grapes as we had a heavy rain fall just before harvest. We want people to know we will only make wines in the years that we are happy with the vintage.
Someone invents a time machine and you can crack a bottle open with any historical person - who is it, what are you drinking and why?
Would pick extravagant wines- start with a bottle of Cristal Champagne, La Tache, Petrus followed by Chateau D’Yquem (would need a second mortgage to pay for those wines) I’d probably have someone like Prince provide the music as I think he would be interesting to chat to.
We would probably include some great philosophers (such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle), people like Martin Luther King, Jane Austen, Amelia Eearhart, Catherine the Great, Audrey Hepburn, Gough Whitlam, Maggie Thatcher . As we are drinking fine wines the conversations would have to be interesting, with lots of robust discussions.
For more Below & Above content, check out our Instagram @canawinestore