In the early 1940s, Ben's great Grandfather Thomas Hubert McDonald boarded a train from Wickapin, settling on McDonald Road. A few years later, his eldest son William "Aussie" McDonald (Ben's Grandfather) left the family farm and founded this farm on Glenarty Road after it was left abandoned as part of the Group Settlement Scheme (GSS). Under the GSS you were required to clear 5 acres of virgin bushland per year in order to continue to lease the farm, until land rights were granted.
Aussie cleared or ringbarked large jarrah and marri trees in order to let the sunlight in to germinate grass, enabling livestock on the farm. The farm continued under a subsistence agriculture model - cows for milk & cream, whey fed to pigs for food and veggies grown in a loamy soil backyard, until Peter McDonald (Ben's father) took over the farm in the 1960s and turned the farm to sheep. Ben decided to diversify and study a diploma of Viticulture, while he helped to plant the Alexander Bridge estate (now the Vasse Felix Karridale property). Going on to plant the home vineyard in 1997. However, he has always been a sheep farmer at heart, so he continued Peter’s legacy by establishing Margaret Grass-Fed Lamb, working to enhance the biodiversity of the farm.
We aren’t ones to get into the mushy stuff, but lo and behold, it was wine, fate and some good friends that brought us together and started this amazing journey! We were in the driveway at 70 Glenarty Road in early 2014. Sash was at the farm to buy some Shiraz fruit to make her own wine label and Ben was more than fashionably late to the meeting, after a long morning surf!
At this point Ben had decided he had enough of viticulture, and he was going to pull out the vineyard. So, he had brought himself a new surfboard and booked a month’s holiday to Byron Bay. Sash was a budding young winemaker full of passion, drive and skill. It was three days before Ben was due to leave when we met, which completely changed our course. We got know each other well, through the process of picking and making a cracking good 2014 Shiraz. Then the dreams to create what we have today started to brew! (if you would like to know all the goss check out the Wine Unearthed Podcast)