Photo credits: Wine Australia
Friday 20th December 2019 was a dark day for many Adelaide Hills vignerons and residents. Simon Tolley watched as the Cudlee Creek fire approach his family home and vineyard with ferocity.
‘On Friday morning, I was at an early morning business meeting, ironically discussing future strategy for Simon Tolley Wines, when I heard the first of several fire trucks rush past’, says Simon Tolley, Proprietor & Viticulturist. ‘It didn’t take long to realise it was serious’.
Simon, and his viticultural team, spent the day fighting spot fires, relocating livestock, and supporting their neighbours as best they could. ‘I tried to send the team home, but they wouldn’t leave. They stayed to help us save our family home and as much of the vineyard as we could’, reflects Simon.
‘We even had friends and neighbours appear with tankers filled with water to help’.
The fire tore through 90% of the property, damaging fences, irrigation, vineyard trellising, destroying 30% of the vines and rendering the 2020 vintage unsaleable due to the effects of smoke taint.
Simon, and his wife Narelle, reflect on the days shortly after the fire. ‘I remember Simon and I packing and dispatching on-line orders. Every-now-and-then we would have to stop to rush outside to put out spot fires’, says Narelle Tolley.
‘It was terrifying but at the same time completely overwhelming to see the generosity of Australians supporting our industry’.
A tremendous amount of recovery work has been undertaken over the last twelve months. ‘It has been a monumental effort’, says Simon. ‘Across two of the most damaged vineyards we have pulled and replanted 3,500 vines, along with cutting back around 5,000 vines that are currently showing
great signs of vigour’.
Despite the challenges of the previous year, Simon and Narelle have been busy executing their longheld ambition to create a home for their wine brand, with the opening of their Cellar Door in January 2021.
Nestled among the beautiful hills of Woodside, Simon Tolley Wines will open Adelaide Hills’ newest Cellar Door in January 2021.
Located adjacent their award-winning luxury accommodation Simon Tolley Lodge, finalist in the Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards, the Simon Tolley Wines Cellar Door will be open, Thursday and Friday (11am – 5pm) & Saturday and Sunday by appointment, showcasing their complete collection of premium Adelaide Hills wines.
‘We wanted to create a home for our wines, a space where people can relax and enjoy wine in the same way we like to enjoy it. It’s really an extension of our own home’, says Narelle. ‘People can come to our cellar door for a tasting or a glass of wine, stay for a while and chat to Simon and me about our wines and the viticulture, while looking out over the beautiful vineyards’.
The Cellar Door is expected to open late January 2021.
Days of operation: By appointment only Friday, Saturday & Sunday.
Hours of operation: Thursday/Friday 11-5 pm & Saturday/Sunday by appointment