We’re thrilled to commence #HumansBehindOurFood – a series that brings-to-life the incredible effort, sacrifice, persistence, joy and humour it takes to grow, produce and serve ethical, regenerative and bloody good food and drink. Food is a mighty connector – how we grow and consume it is intricately and inextricably connected to the health of our communities, the health of our bodies and the health of the ecosystems that support all life on earth. We aim to brings these connections to life, through the humans behind our food. So that together, we can build a better food future.

So, let us begin!


CLARE BURDER, EMINENCE WINES

We’d like to introduce you to someone very dear to our hearts and organisation. Clare Burder burst into our lives back in 2009 when she made up one of the fine crew from the Young Bunch who did all the food and wine matching for our first book.

What started out as a professional relationship quickly morphed into an alignment on all things, food, feminism and discussions around ethics. Clare and her family are also the most incredible hosts and hold an annual salami-making bonanza on their farm, bringing people together (us included) to share in age-old food traditions.

Clare became someone who we’d regularly turn to for informal discussions about organisational direction and strategy, so it eventually made sense to formalise this through a position on our Board.

Clare now runs her family vineyard (amongst other things) – It’s called Eminence Wines and is located in Whitlands, North East Victoria. At 868 metres above sea level, this is the highest altitude vineyard in Victoria, and one of the coldest sites in Australia. From there, they make exceptional sparkling wine, chardonnay, pinot noir and dry rose.

Historically the vineyard has been ‘conventional’ by definition, however Clare and her family have consciously started to implement regenerative farming practices, which include no-till farming and a high diversity of mid row grasses. Watch this space because their evolution towards improved farm health and biodiversity has well and truly begun.

Clare and I caught up for a brief chat in the midst of the pandemic, we’d now like to share some morsels of inspiration with you.

Cheers, Cassie


1. Why do you do what you do?

Great wine is of a place and to have access to a beautiful place, our home in Whitlands, is the reason why we do what we do. It connects people to our place, through wine.

2. How has the Coronavirus impacted your business?

To be honest, the bushfires have been worse because we have suffered from smoke taint. We have basically lost three quarters of our revenue from smoke taint.

That on top of COVID-19 means the market for wine has been totally devastated. We sell direct to restaurants and bars, so we don’t anticipate being able to sell wine again until summer.

3. How are you and your community holding up? What has it (bushfires and COVID-19) meant for you personally?

There’s a certain resilience in agriculture that I have seen really rise up. People are just getting on with it. It’s a crop, it fails sometimes. It’s part of the reality.

The elephant in the room is climate change, that is the great unknown for the wine industry.

The elephant in the room is climate change, that is the great unknown for the wine industry.

4. In a time where our main focus is to have enough food for our families, why is it still important to consider where and how we shop?

I’ve loved seeing the wine industry leap to its feet with deliveries and innovation.

COVID-19 has shone a really bright spotlight on what local actually means. Roughly three quarters of Victorian wine is produced within a couple of hours of Melbourne. So, if you try a little bit harder you can access local producers relatively easily. It’s direct and the money remains in the community, whereas large retailers capture most of that gain.

5. Aside from the devastating human loss, are there any other fears you hold, for what your life or life’s work may look like? Conversely, what are the positives you hope to see.

I mostly fear for the hospitality industry. The capital required to get back up and going is just not going to be there for ages afterwards.

My hope is that this pandemic sees a culture-wide reset of life and how we have been living it.

My hope is that this pandemic sees a culture-wide reset of life and how we have been living it.

In recent years, everyone has become accustomed to getting whatever they want whenever they want. It has led to this deep and constant consumerism. I feel like this experience is resetting this. It is forcing us to consider what we buy, how we buy it and who benefits from this.

For example, where our business is concerned, it may take a few extra days to have wine delivered to your door, but people may be more willing to wait because they now appreciate the process, where it comes from and how they are directly supporting a small business, which in turn benefits our regional communities.


And so concludes our little chat. Thanks for following along and thank you Clare for your time and wisdom. See you all again in a couple of weeks for our next profile  #HumansBehindOurFood