The Graeme Series

Having completed his five year apprenticeship as an electrician in Melbourne, a further five months in outback N.S.W. as a professional kangaroo shooter then six months working in England, now studying the Italian language at Perugia University, a young Graeme Leith, in October 1961, contemplates his next move in life. He has recently tasted his first ‘ethereal’ wine and it was a revelation to him, but he doesn’t know then what a large role wine will play in his life later on, when he will eventually plant the vineyard and establish the winery that he will name ‘Passing Clouds.’  

I had never nurtured the dream of becoming a vigneron/winemaker although some time spent in Italy had sparked my enthusiasm for good wine. I had been working in England to save the money to go to Perugia University and whilst there drank some beautiful wine made by ‘peasant’ artisan winemakers in the hills above. What made me think I could do the same, I don’t really know; hubris, I guess. Whatever it was, it saw me and partner Sue Mackinnon in September 1973 inspecting a small property of some twenty acres with a substandard house and a couple of gnarled and ancient vines, the remnants of a bygone vineyard.

So we bought it, 200 kilometres from Melbourne, where we lived. Our friends, justifiably, thought we were mad. Neither of us had ever grown anything in the ground before so we had to learn, we did know however that anything we grew would have to be grown organically, no pesticides, insecticides or herbicides. We worked and lived in Melbourne and attended to the needs of the property on weekends as we slowly developed skills, bought a tractor and a few implements and planted our vegetables and vines, not imagining, of course that a few years later we would be commissioned to write ‘The Grass Roots Vegie Grower’s Companion’ or that I would be commissioned to write ‘Establishing Your Own Vineyard’ which I did under the nom de plume of ‘Grenville Nash’. We had an awful lot of hard work and learning to go through first, but we seemed to be getting there.

 One of the first ‘garagistas’! Making the 1980 vintage in the garage/winery at Kingower. The vehicles are parked outside in the weather. The Shiraz Cabernet 1980 was still a gorgeous wine 15 years later, the first of that long line later to be labelled as ‘Graeme’s Blend’ and still, of course made today, arguably our most popular wine.

Cheers Graeme Leith

Purchase the Graeme's Shiraz Cabernet