THE region’s wines are often winning state and national recognition, but one of the men behind those wines has fallen just short of joining them.
Tamburlaine Organic Wines vineyard manager Clayton Kiely has been named runner-up Farmer of the Year at the 2017 Australian Organic Annual Awards for Excellence and said the success had been motivating.
“I’m going to put my head down and go hard for next year,” he said.
Mr Kiely started at Cargo Road Wines when he was studying at TAFE before moving across to Tamburlaine to look after the vines at the Borenore property in 1999.
He was named Young Vigneron of the Year in the same year and has served as manager since 2012.
“I like the vineyard – I like where it is, I like the fruit, I think it’s got more potential,” he said.
The vineyard is certified biodynamic and Mr Kiely said it meant being proactive, not reactive.
“You don’t have the luxury of using pesticides to clear up disease, you have to watch the weather more carefully,” he said.
The task also entails herding sheep through the rows and researching foreign legislation to make sure grapes not only comply with Australian regulations, but also with European Union, United States and Chinese legislation so the wines can be exported to a number of countries.
The award pitted him against all other farming industries, from cattle to wheat, and he said he did not allow himself to feel excited until he was named in the top three finalists.
“It’s a bit humbling to be nominated for a job you love,” he said.
“Tambulaine is the largest organic producer in Australia at the moment and 90 of its production comes from Orange.”
Mr Kiely said the vineyard’s cabernet was doing particularly well and he wanted to pursue more riesling and malbec.
“We think riesling could have a bigger future and malbec is the unsung hero in Orange, we’ve won trophies for our malbec,” he said.
He thanked his colleagues, Nick Johnson and Chris Gibney, for their role in the vineyard’s success.
“You can’t do it on your own,” he said.
Mr Kiely is also Deputy Captain of the Borenore Rural Fire Brigade and a member of the Orange Region Vignerons Association committee.