At a time when many people are pulling grapevines out of the ground, and vineyards are seen as a liability, it is refreshing to spend time at Christos Valley Estate Vineyard (home of the popular farmers markets) and hear their positive visions for the future.
Much of this optimism can be attributed to powerhouse, Despina Christos and her passion for hospitality. For most people the idea of feeding 1,200 people on a Sunday morning, sounds like a nightmare.
For Despina this enthusiasm to feed and delight is her driving force. Despina says, “I can’t think of anything else better than cooking and creating things”. Despina, born in Greece, came to Australia in her 20s and is best described as a warm, bubbly, hard working lady who offers a wonderful “Greek hospitality” we all love.
Interestingly, this hospitality has deep traditional roots and is known as Xenia. In ancient Greece, one never knew when the beggar knocking at the door might be a god, disguised
or else watching from above, passing judgment.
Therefore, hospitality toward strangers and travelers was a popular element in many of the greek myths and stories.
The property was purchased by the Christos in 2009, operating then as Hartley Estate. Despina and her husband came along one day for a wine tasting and admired the property. When it came available a few months later they were eager to buy it and from the beginning had visions of creating road side markets along the driveway.
The original farm manager, Wayne Snedden, stayed on to manage the estate. Wayne shares Despina’s passion for gardens and loves the property like his own. Wayne started his career as a field technician with Agriculture WA, he spent two years at Sandalford Winery and then joined Hartley Estate.
Wayne is particularly proud of their recent achievement, winning the Perth Hills Wine Show, 2010 Best White Wine award for Viognier.
Despina shares, “Our goal is to sell our wine exclsuively to people who come to our markets. I love to see people enjoying themselves and drinking our wines. “
This hospitality extends to the whole family; if you have been to the markets you may have noticed how everyone plays a role. Family is everything to
Despina, much of her vision includes their children and hopes of future grandchildren.
This year they have bottled 700 reserve Shiraz and Chardonay, to be set aside for the children’s and grand children’s weddings. These “bottles of love” are just another example of this hospitality and family values.
Wayne recalls planting the Viognier vines in 2000, they were purchased from Victoria and were the first of the HT (heat treated) Koorlong clone in WA. They were so sought after, when the owner discovered people were stealing cuttings from the vines, they offered people the opportunity to buy them.
They were amazed to sell 16,000 sticks at around $1.50 each. Wayne laughs, “we probably made more money from the sticks than the fruit that year”.
Christos have 2.5 hectares of this Viognier variety, out of their 17 hectares of vines. According to their contract winemaker the property provides a unique micro climate that seems perfect for this variety.