IT'S all in the taste.
Promotion through word of mouth has taken on a new meaning for Garry Richard's crafted berry wines, vodkas and liqueurs.
Word of their tantalising tastes has spread wide and far from his berry garden and distillery in the Bocoble district some 30 kilometres from Mudgee.
And that's just for one side of the Kookaburra Estate business, his award winning jams are to die for as well.
But there's much more to the story than Garry.
His wife, Kate, a fifth generation country girl began baking in her "country kitchen" with recipes handed down through generations, many of which are 100-plus years old.
Her farm baking has heralded wide acclaim and many a success at local shows.
Their whole new world began some nine years ago after they "retired" from the hustle and bustle of Sydney city life - Kate running her own printing business at North Ryde and Garry, an advertising industry executive who had ventured out into his own agency at Marsfield, just off Epping Road, where he remembers the main roads in the locality formed of dirt and gravel.
Their "tree change" brought them to the Mudgee district, however, ill-health handicapped Garry with 17 surgeries in the first five years after the move.
He was in and out of hospital so often he reckoned he was entitled to frequent flyer points.
In the meantime Kate kept cooking which opened another avenue - catering to the local emergency services.
From last December first through to January 15, the couple supplied the Cudgegong region's headquarters in Mudgee, upwards of 100 meals a day during the summer bushfires in the region.
"It was hectic but fun," Kate said. "We supplied meals to volunteers from just about everywhere including overseas."
Among Kate's favourites are butter/curds, tarts, cakes, biscuits, cheesecakes, desserts and other sweet treats.
"We make our products with just about everything off the farm," Kate said.
They began farm life with egg production ending up with 300 layers up until Garry developed Ross River fever and had to sell all as he was "so crook".
Then Kate started cooking and baking, then entered some of her results in the Mudgee Show.
"Her success got me going and as we had so many berries, I started making jam and entered them in the shows,"Garry said.
"It took some time to develop a successful formula, but I started winning ribbons too," he said.
The berry garden began with Kate buying three raspberry plants which, over time, grew into more than 650 bushes.
"To encourage berry growth we needed bees, so we purchased a couple of hives and now we are producing honey wine as well as raspberry," Garry said.
"Some days we are picking up to six kilograms of berries," Kate said, "So we have a glut which encouraged Garry to move into the wine and liqueurs."
A local doctor friend, after sampling, suggested Berry vodka, and this has led to Garry's specialty.
After buying-in vodka,he found if better to make his own, so bought a still and gained all the relevant licences, and the result has become big business for the Mudgee district couple.
COVID aside, market days were their special outings and last year they participated in the Flavours of Mudgee festival.
"Not having a clue if any of my products would be good enough for people to buy, let alone like, I set up my stall next to Kate's kitchen pod and before I knew it, I was rushed off my feet," Garry said.
To help out, one of the Mudgee Tourism Information Centre staff members lent a helping hand.
But it was Mother's Day which took the real positive turn.
"We had many orders and delivered them around town," Kate said.
"By the next weekend we had received many enquiries and new orders from people as far away at Sydney and Wollongong. They had been visiting relatives and friends and tasted our products."
Both agreed that was the greatest of pleasures - receiving all the positive reports.
Not all beer and skittles
Perfecting Garry's recipes was not all beer and skittles.
"It took me some time to get each of my products right, and now it's just as important to keep the same quality control," Garry said.
During the early days the Richards tried the home brews on neighbours.
"They are willing souls and still our friends, but they were honest and would tell me to tip the batch out and start again, on occasions. My failures made me research and work harder until I now feel I have perfected my main lines, but I continue to delve into new fruit lines."
The Richards can be contacted online through their Kookaburra Estate website or facebook or email: firstname.lastname@example.org