MAURIE Abbott retired to Mollymook two years ago, but soon got sick of “sitting around the house” so decided to take on a new challenge.
Taking over the award-winning Bawley Vale Estate winery and vineyard is certainly keeping Mr Abbott and his wife Jeiji busy, particularly seeing neither have had any experience in the wine industry.
Their journey began when the couple was dining at Merry Street Restaurant in Kioloa earlier this year where they tasted a verdelho from the nearby winery.
“We were so impressed that we went to the winery the next day to buy more of the verdelho,” Mr Abbott said.
“They had sold out, so we couldn’t buy any, but we feel in love with the place and bought the winery instead.”
With a home at Mollymook, Mr Abbott said since taking over the winery in October, the couple is now enjoying the best of the beach and the bush.
“We love the vineyard,” he said. “The property is serene and so beautiful.
“It’s a lifestyle choice for us,” the former equipment hire company owner explained.
Located on the main road into Bawley Point and boasting 7,500 vines, the vineyard has been operating for seven years and has picked up a number of awards for its drier style wines.
Mr Abbott said he had introduced some sweeter wines to the range.
“We are retaining the existing Bawley Vale range and have added a new generation of wine varieties that we are marketing as Abbott’s,” he said.
The new wines are sweeter, smoother styles such as cabernet sauvignon, unwooded chardonnay, pink chardonnay, traminer riesling and arneis made at the Crooked River Winery near Nowra.
“The new style of verdelho is to die for,” Mr Abbott said.
“We are leaning towards the sweeter fruity style wines that we enjoy and about 80 per cent of the population prefer.”
The 100-acre property features lush lawns, ideal for picnicking and weddings, as well as a huge range of fruit and nut trees including citrus, olives, kiwi fruit, nectarines, cherries, figs and walnuts as well as the unusual Buddha’s finger fruit used to flavour desserts.
Over the next six months the Abbotts are not making huge changes, but want to enhance the property and have employed a horticulturalist to help with the vines and plants.
Mr Abbott has been mowing, repairing fences and tidying up the grounds so they can be used by families who want to bring a picnic and relax in the lush surrounds.
“We will have red deer and Boer goats as well as geese and guinea fowl just to add a welcoming feel for families,” he said.
“We want people to come and enjoy this place and we welcome weddings.”
The winery is open for wine tasting daily from 10am until 5pm over summer.
Bawley Vale has been a popular venue for music in the vines and has taken part in the Shoalhaven Winter Wine Festival. The new owners are looking into how they can continue with the events and become part of the community.