Couple’s big step

Shannon SmithGreat Southern Herald
Walkers Hill Vineyard.
Camera IconWalkers Hill Vineyard. Credit: Pictures: Nic Duncan, Nic Duncan

Just north of Lake Grace nestled between the grain crops is where you find WA’s most inland vineyard, Walkers Hill Vineyard.

The challenges of growing grapes in a low-rainfall area in the Wheatbelt haven’t stopped the Bray family farming an unlikely produce for the area.

Tania and Jared Bray took over the winery in 2011 and have since created a function centre that draws people from all over the region.

The function centre opened in December 2017. Hosting weddings, sporting celebrations and birthdays, the classy venue has been inundated with support from the community.

“We’ve been absolutely blown away with the support we are getting, surrounding districts are all travelling to us too,” Ms Bray said.

“There is nothing nice like this to get married, that is self-catered for, in this area.

“We offer anything from tapas, sit-down meals, three-course and everything is sourced locally.”

The winery, first opened in 1995 by Bill Walker, had its first vintage, a shiraz, in 1998.

Walkers Hill Vineyard.
Camera IconWalkers Hill Vineyard. Credit: Nic Duncan

Being in a low-rainfall area has a big effect on the winemakers and they do not plan to have a vintage next year.

“People ask us if we knew anything at all about grapes and no we didn’t so it has been a big learning curve for both of us,” Ms Bray said.

“The drought will affect us. Farming is so diverse and we really are farming too.

“We always want the rain when the farmers around us don’t, we have the opposite season.

“We probably won’t have a vintage next year with the amount of water we have to pour on, we cant afford it.

“We can afford enough water to keep them going but not for a quality vintage.”

During picking time, anyone is welcome to come and help pick the grapes which the winery donates back to not-for-profit organisations in the town.

Walkers Vineyard is open Wednesday to Sunday.

The Brays hope to begin serving daily lunches.

Walkers Hill Vineyard.
Camera IconWalkers Hill Vineyard. Credit: Nic Duncan

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