Escape Southern Highlands visits a local vineyard built on dedication and vision where fine wines flow and sunny lawns beckon.
Artemis wines take its name from Artemis, Greek goddess of hunting and the earth. Twin sister of Apollo, daughter of Zeus.
But there’s no putting the success of this Southern Highlands vineyard, winery and cellar door down to luck of the Gods. This place is carved out of hard work, and family commitment.
Joseph and Barb Balog and winemaker sons Anton and Mark bought Artemis, once a scrubby bush block more than 20 years ago. They had a dream to make beautiful wines. The family worked alongside each other to cultivate this once fallow land.
In 1997 the family planted pinot noir. A grape favoured in Burgundy, France, it was unfamiliar to Australian wine drinkers. Today, sitting in Artemis’ cellar-door with tasting bar, tables and stools handmade by Joseph from natives cleared for vines, Barb recalls the tough years.
‘Twenty years ago we would go into local restaurants and say ‘are you interested in taking any of our wines?’ and people would look at us as if we were mad. Now we have people ringing looking for our wines all the time. Cool climate wines are finally having their day, which is so wonderful to see.’
With seven acres under vine, Artemis is hard pushed to keep up with demand. Its Pinot Noir 2015 is stocked nationally by Dan Murphy’s, and recently won a silver medal at the Vienna International Wine Show. One of only a handful of Southern Highlands producers growing and making onsite, Artemis bottles between 5000-7000 cartons of wine annually. The commercial success of its Pinot Noir 2015 allows room for other wines to be produced such as the Close Vine Pinot Noir 2015 and Pinot Grigio vintages 2014.
‘We are a small family business and to get a foot in the door at Dan Murphy’s has been amazing for us,’ says Sanne, Mark’s fiance who runs the cellar-door, and with the help of Barb and a dedicated team has established a calendar of events at Artemis.
‘Locals have also been incredibly supportive, and people are getting to recognise the wines and labels widely.’
Events at Artemis are well patronised. Taking place on the lawns in front of the vines, these include Yoga mornings, Open Mike afternoons, wood fire pizzas evenings and an active wine club.
The cellar door and lawns are also available for private events, and Sanne is considering events such as cinema nights and a Winterfest for later in the year.
Artemis also produces Sunshack ciders, BEE Mead, Australia’s first sparking mead and one beer a year, and has branched out into food. I spend a very pleasant interlude in the cellar door, which looks out over the vines, tasting wines while devouring a Southern Highlands Tasting Board. Jane Brabon, team member and former owner of the Bowral Cheese Shop, gives me the rundown.
‘Everything was chosen to accompany Artemis’ wines and showcase local producers of the Highlands,’ says Jane.
The extra virgin olive oil is from Scarlett Grove, free range salami from Redleaf Farm, smoked pepper ham from Polish deli Nasz Stolik and the relish is made by retired Werai chef, Ian Morphey Even the balsamic reduction is made locally, by Jake Warwick, a team member who works in the vines and runs the pizza wood fire oven on Artemis pizza nights.
It is a delicious feast for two and although I am only one, I put quite a dent in it, as I enjoy Artemis’s delicious Sparking Riesling 2015, the cellar door’s first sparkling. Cold and delicate, with wafts of apple, citrus and honey, it is delicious. It’s clear talking to the Artemis team that hard work and innovation is at the heart of this business. And the team is not finished yet.
‘We are considering going down the wedding track as a venue for couples wanting smaller more bespoke weddings,’ says Sanne. ‘We already do a lot of pre-and-post wedding get togethers, and there is no doubt the amount of weddings in the Highlands helps us with that. But we’d also like to think it’s down to the name Artemis is making for itself.’
Artemis Wines Cellar Door
Weekends & Public Holidays
46 Sir Charles Moses Lane
Off the Old Hume Highway