Dr Plonk

By day, curer of ills, by night, creator of hedonistic liquid delights... The Good Doctor is a fifth-generation farmer who left the land to study medicine and journeyed full circle to become a grower of wine. Yes, winegrower.

HOW THE GOOD DOCTOR WAS BORN

The passion The Good Doctor discovered over the years for drinking wine grew exponentially by watching people make it. Once he started dabbling in the process of winemaking, it reinforced his ground roots connection with the land. “I’m always a farmer, it’s in my blood, growing produce is like breathing to me. My experience was in growing sheep and consumables. It’s a good feeling...growing what you consume. You can imagine seeing the penny drop…I can grow what I consume; grow the grapes, harvest and crush the fruit, ferment the juice and bottle the wine that will wind up in my glass”. Full circle…and the complete epitome of his alter ego…Dr Plonk is the antithesis of the unimaginative pressures that come with the day job.

FROM DOCTOR TO PURVEYOR OF BOOZE?

Coming from a family of teetotallers and certainly not a learned palate, The Good Doctor began his drinking career with a clean slate. Bringing uni mates home to the farm got old quickly and they soon learned wine tasting in the Coonawarra was a way more entertaining option. Cheap-skate uni students seeking out bargain cleanskins. And that’s where the love for Cabernet and structural wines was born. From there it was all about opportunity.

Studies and work led The Good Doctor to the UK and Europe – Bordeaux tastings blew his mind. Cabernet based wines was where it was at and became his primary focus. Following that, back on home turf and by some stroke of divine intervention, every district he wound up shifting to for work happened to fall within a wine region – central coast, Hunter Valley, Clare Valley and eventually McLaren Vale. “I found myself drawn to people with similar passions and persuasions and a fortuitous meeting opened the door to a communal winery, a place to practice and play, free from elitist brow frowning. Revelling in this world fed the way I learn - look, see, do. In medicine there is always a ‘see one, do one, teach one’ philosophy and I live by it. Exposure to experience”.

The communal winery was completely hands on, touch and taste, very experimental, very tactile; a melting pot of ideas from different people doing the same thing, but so differently from one another… it fed an already firmly entrenched passion. The Good Doctor can’t imagine himself ever having made it to this point without having that experience. The first few years, the naive Good Doctor had NFI…that eventually led to knowing more growers, more methods, more winemakers, asking more questions, soaking up the wealth of knowledge that surrounded him...he learnt from every experience, and continues to do so. A key lesson, learning that wine quality happens well before it went to barrel. It had to start in the vineyard and go full circle. Back to the spiritual home of the Good Doc; Paeroa (Kiwi for 'breeze over the hills') Vineyard in the Willunga foothills...the perfect site for disease minimisation and growing Mediteranean grape varieties.

THE VARIETIES

“The joy of pulling out Merlot to build a house...the sheer delight of chain sawing Sauv Blanc to graft Mourvedre...discovering varieties that excel in this region. Cabernet...my childhood sweetheart. Grafting Tannat...my long lost love. Montepulciano...an attempt to reconcile a lost cause and inadvertently my stroke of genius”. The one variety Dr Plonk found on his Paeroa vineyard that eluded the chainsaw is one of the great heroes of McLaren Vale; Shiraz, and the Good Doc has since planted Carignan.