By Melissa Keogh
Lemon myrtle, native pepperleaf, desert lime and bush tomato syrup are not usually ingredients found at a cellar door.
But for Clare Valley’s Paulett Wines, the addition of a native bush café and garden has been a recipe for success and has increased business significantly.
Before 2015 Paulett Wines, located in the Clare Valley sub region of Polish Hill River, was renowned for producing a riesling that was crowned as the world’s best in 2010.
But yearning to create an even greater point of difference, the family owned and operated business planted a sensory bush garden and opened the Bush DeVine Café.
At the helm of Paulett Wines is chief winemaker Neil and his wife Alison (general manager), their son Matthew who manages the vineyard and his wife Ali who looks after sales and marketing.
“There was no shortage of cellar doors in the Clare Valley, but there was a shortage of places to eat,” Ali says.
“We needed that point of difference.”
Paulett Wines established the Bush DeVine Café with the help of a $116,000 grant from the State Government’s Regional Development Fund in late 2014.
Ali says the grant has proved invaluable in getting the project off the ground and bringing the family’s value-adding idea to fruition.
“We had the idea in the pipeline for a long time – if we had a dollar for every time someone said ‘you should put a restaurant in’ we could almost have paid for it ourselves,” she says.
“It (the café) has been boosting traffic to the cellar door amazingly – and that means more and more jobs.
“We’ve taken on over 30 employees now; we only had six before.”
Bush DeVine’s head chef Roger Graham creates dishes with a native Australian twist, including the Jamaican jerk chicken with pepperberry sweet potato, desert lime and chilli sauce.
Another favourite is the bushies platter, featuring Roger’s chutney, meats, olive tapenade, marinated mushrooms, labneh, fetta, chirzo from local meat shop Mathies, and crusty bread.
The menu features matching wines, while diners who prefer to sip on a brew can enjoy the Last Minute Extra Special Bitter – a collaboration between Paulett and Clare Valley Brewing Co.
Ali says the café is supplied with native ingredients from local producers as well as Paulett Wines’ own bush garden, which was planted in 2010.
The garden features hundreds of native plants and bush tucker foods, including bush spinach, muntrie berries, native raspberries, bush mint and thyme, lemon myrtle and riberries.
The Paulett’s also grow quinces, pomegranates, figs, walnuts and mulberries.
Visitors are free to wander through the ‘sensory’ garden and pick a berry or two for a taste and a smell.
Ali says opening the café has allowed them to support youth employment and training.
Bush DeVine has recently taken on two young apprentices in the kitchen, and Ali says the family business is set for further growth.
“What we would love to do next is enhance the cellar door experience by creating a separate tasting space alongside the café, allowing us to maintain the premium experience for those wine lovers who are focused solely on the wine,” she says.
The first Paulett Wines vintage was produced by Neil and Alison in 1983.
Paulett Wines will appear at the Cellar Door Festival in Adelaide from March 2–4.
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