May 30, 2011
GRAPES PROVE THE APPLE OF BORRY’S EYE
THERE are a couple of 19th century drawings on the wall of a guest cottage at the picturesque little Borrodell on the Mount winery in the Central West of NSW, that remarkably do more to embrace the history of this property than could any number of infinitely researched words.
One is a simple apple. The other a bunch of grapes. And between them they symbolise the transition of Borrodell from an apple orchard two decades ago, to one of NSW's most delightful – and successful – boutique wineries today.
When he bought the property forty years ago, Borry Gartrell simply joined the scores of others on the rich volcanic foothills of Mount Canobolas near Orange, growing apples, cherries, peaches, pears, nectarines and plums that would be snapped-up for their quality and flavours by not only buyers in Australia, but around the world.
Then 20 years ago, Borry and other orchardists discovered that the soils on which they were growing their much-sought-after market fruits held some other rich secrets: tests proved that they would be ideal for branching out into grape-growing.
But Borry and co didn't rush into bulldozing their orchards to replace them with vineyards. Rather they carefully re-structured their acreages to embrace what had proven bountiful in the past, to create even greater bounties in the future with a mix of orchard fruits and grapes – not for the table, but for winemaking.
Publisher John Rozentals who produces an interesting e-zine called OzBabyBoomers for the active over-50s, came upon Borrodell on the Mount on a recent research trip through inland NSW, and has enthused ever since over its past, its present… and, as a wine writer of note amongst his many other activities, its future. (See www.ozbabyboomers.com.au)
Because, Rozentals says, Borry and wife Gaye Stuart-Nairne are turning their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Gewurztraminer and Shiraz into some of Australia's most rewarding still and sparkling wines.
And as well they've two guest cabins and two suites that nestle among their trees and vines, together with a restaurant they call Sisters Rock in which the treasures from the kitchen are first-class and carefully designed to match the season: right now that means entrées of tandoori fillet of wild rabbit or confit of duck leg, and main courses such as slow-roast pork belly or loin of local venison.
On top of all this, Borry and Gaye have also just successfully established the rare black truffle on the slopes of Mount Canobolas just up the hill from their restaurant — somewhat to the delight of Chef Alan Meaney, who relishes using local produce and says you can't get much more local than "just up the hill."
Not that Borry has neglected his apples: in fact he's now got more than 170 varieties, including many classified as "heirlooms."
He swears they're the bane of his life, because his interest in them detracts from the emphasis he'd like to place on the rest of he and Gaye's business, but guests realise from his exuberance as he hands out samples, that he's absolutely devoted to his pommes.
And that he's also a dab hand at turning the juice of those into a very respectable cider.
And then there are his plums. Guests note that Borry gets a far-away muse in his eye as the late evening conversation turns from his wines to his cider… and possibly one day a plum brandy.
GETTING THERE: Borrodell is on Lake Canobolas Road, Orange. Phone 02 6365 3425 or see www.borrodell.com.au.
Orange is 260 kilometres west of Sydney via Bathurst. While there drive to the top of Mount Canobolas: it's the highest point in a straight line between Sydney and the Indian Ocean, and offers splendid vistas of Orange and the surrounding countryside as far as the eye can see...
And if you are a golfer, take-on the challenging and picturesque Duntryleague, rated by legendary South African golfer Bobby Locke as the best non-metropolitan course in Australia.
There are also some charming villages that circle Orange, especially Millthorpe, which is renowned for its restaurants and galleries, while nearby Ophir and Lucknow still offer an insight today into their 19th century gold-mining pasts... and poet Banjo Paterson was born on a property on the Ophir Road in 1864.
 BORRY in his vineyard
 ROOM with a millon-dollar view… looking out to the winery restaurant's
 THE tasting room for a pleasant afternoon's decision-making
 Memorial in Orange to poet Banjo Paterson who was born on a nearby
property in 1864
(Photos: Sandra Burn White)