A First Timer's 'Garage Wine' Won The Annual Organic Wine Awards

It just shows plenty of talent goes into a fluke.
A first-timer's 'garage wine' was voted best in Australia.
A first-timer's 'garage wine' was voted best in Australia.

Biodynamic farmer Sam Statham was pretty sure his first try at organic wine would be no good.

He'd made a few learn-from-it errors during the fermentation and was nervous about repeating a home-made beer disaster a few years back.

And then the finished product won the bloody Australian Organic Wine Awards.

"It's my first wine and really, I had only been hoping for it to be not bad," Statham told The Huffington Post Australia.

"The wine was made manually so we didn't have any equipment -- even down to the maceration, where the grape skins are pushed down into the ferment, I did it with my hands.

"Now, I'm not sure I could ever repeat it."

The cabernet sauvignon, named Garage Number 1, was a brave leap for Statham, who started working in grape growing in 1996.

"It took me a long time to work up the courage to make my own wine," Statham told HuffPost Australia.

Floyd tries his hand at plunging the garage shiraz grenache mourvedre #v16 #organicwine

A video posted by Rosnay Organic - Sam Statham (@gofortheo) on

"I had a lot of conversations with winemakers. There's a lot of that old knowledge still floating around with the people who are still making wine in their backyards in places like Italy."

These time-tested ways are now called biodynamic organic farming, and are based on the principle of treating the soil like a living thing full of all sorts of beneficial bacteria (much like the microbiome in our guts).

"You know they say making good wine is done in the vineyard -- if the fruit is good and you don't do anything stupid in winery, then you should have good wine," he said.

"You shouldn't need to know a hell of a lot of chemistry – 'cause I failed chemistry. If you have good grapes, you don't need to do any magic afterwards."

In that spirit, Statham enriches his soil with an age-old technique whereby a ram's horn is filled with manure and buried.

"It actually feeds certain organisms that transform cow manure into one of the richest inoculants of bacteria and fungi you could hope for. It's a backyard way of producing a really potent probiotic that you can dilute in warm, oxygenised water and spray onto the ground."

Another tenant of bioorganic farming was to plant and sew via lunar cycles but Statham wasn't entirely sure on that one.

"It's about an ancient connection to the moon, and I'm not sure about that one because sometimes you need to be practical," Statham said.

"If it happens to coincide with picking, we might bring it forward or backwards a few days to align but it's not always practical."

Whatever he did, it obviously worked and now, Statham said he was going to see if he could do it again.

"The thing about wine making is you've probably made another two before you find out if the first one was any good," Statham said.

"Next year, we'll try to replicate it."