When Gail & Dan Bam purchased the 100 acre ‘Glenowen’ property in Bindoon in 1996 they had no idea about winemaking, just a lifelong desire to farm and enjoy a country life.
Despite several attempts in his twenties to become a farmer, Dan was destined to enjoy a successful career as an engineer for many years but the desire to farm never left him. He says, “I knew I would need a project when I retired in future years. I like golf but you can’t do that 7 days a week. At the time, a friend said to us, ‘When you find the property that is yours, you’ll know it is yours’.”
‘Glenowen’ named after Owen Road which was named for Owen Glover, was to be theirs. “The property had a little cottage and was pretty run down but it was fantastic, we did it up. We would leave Perth on a Friday afternoon and come for the weekend,” recalls Gail.
As a bonus the farm also came with vines that they have since discovered could be almost 90 years old. According to some of the elderly locals they have always been there. One variety of rootstock is thought to be Iranian, and was possibly brought in during World War I. As a purely commercial venture, these old vines would have been pulled out a long time ago.
When they bought the property, Evans and Tate had a contract to buy all the grapes. In 1998, their winemaker won a best Shiraz award using the fruit from Glenowen. Dan and Gail learnt what they could from the winemaker, even making their own small batch of wine for friends, using the traditional method of stomping the wine. Gail recalls, “There was grape everywhere”. It was so much fun”.
Despite the win, Evans and Tate wanted to drop the price for the fruit the following year. Dan refused to accept and within six months they came back, prepared to pay more. Too late; Dan and Gail were on a journey of discovery and had decided to pick their own grapes and start their own label.
Gail and Dan knew nothing about winemaking but they were excited at the prospect of learning more. They teamed up with Swan Valley Wines who agreed to make a small batch, and they have been happy working with them ever since. Recently, they launched their own Rosé. A perfect summer drink, Rosé gets its colour from the skins of the Shiraz (with just 1 day on the skins before racking off).