Rosnay organic vineyard – Sustainable Stories

 In Collaboration, Sustainable Stories

Sustainable Stories No 11. Sam Statham – Rosnay organic vineyard.

At Fish & Co we are dedicated to sustainability not only for seafood but also in business. We thought it would be interesting to share a little background on our sustainable partners so you could get to know a little more about the people and their businesses that makes it all possible for us to deliver our delicious sustainable experience here at Fish & Co.
We would love to hear what you think or on ways we can improve on connecting sustainable stories?

Your Name Sam Statham

Where do you live?

I live in a straw bale house at Rivers Road Organic Farms, which is a group of organic farms and eco community at Canowindra, in the Central West of NSW

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m married to Simone and we’ve got three kids, and I am addicted to organic farming. I love working within natural cycles and rhythms and not trying to control things all the time. I try not to let this philosophy stress me out because it often means we have to have faith in the natural order and most of the time it all works out fine. I first got into organic farming when back packing in NZ, when I discovered “woofing”, 20 years ago. I brought what I learnt back to the family farm in Australia and see myself as totally blessed that my parents were open to the idea of going organic. We’ve now been growing organic crops for nearly 2 decades.

Tell us about your business:

We are part of Community Title agricultural development called Rivers Road Organic Farms, which we set up in 1998 as a way to get others involved in organic farming and to pool our resources with like minded people. So today we are one of 8 members of the community, most of whom are living on the farm, growing various crops and livestock, and building homes out of straw, earth and other natural materials.

Whilst we are like minded in many ways, the group is diverse in skills and background, which is great. Our part of the community is the Rosnay wine, olive and figs business which is wholly owned by our family. We produce certified organic wines, some of which are also preservative free, or “fresh product” wines. Most of our wines are made by Chris Derrez, a contract winemaker in Orange.

The Freedom Red has been served at Fish and Co since the first vintage of it was made in 2012. Our olives are also organic and naturally fermented, and our figs are value added in many different ways into some delicious products which I have to be disciplined not to splurge on!

What are your longer term goals for the business?

I want to set up the business like an ecosystem for the next generation to find happy and productive “niches” where they can continue what my parents started. There is still so much opportunity all around us to develop value adding, tourism, accommodation, and multi level permacultural style diversified production (for example, running free range pigs and feeding them reject olives, grape skins and other waste). I want to recycle and reuse all waste, rather than make the business huge, in order to increase efficiency. I also want to set up a better kitchen so that one day others can also use it and even head towards a loose cooperative business model.

Who are your customers?

We love our wholesalers, who specialise in providing lots of love to customers all over Australia. Locally we look after retail customers in the Central West and cellar door customers here on the farm. On the farm we get bus groups, students, grey nomads, wine gurus, occasional trade visitors, and locals who come to watch Flickerfest short films on the lawn, twice a year.

What does ʻsustainabilityʼ mean to your business?

Apart from the obvious, building soil organic matter and humus structure, and producing crops with minimal or no outside inputs, to me its about being able to slowly grow by reinvesting internally, making mistakes but learning from them, and allowing the business to evolve with the aspirations of each family member who wants to be part of it.

What is your businesses biggest achievement?

Still being here, in the wine industry, as a 90’s boom startup. Many people who jumped into the industry then have fallen to the wayside, but we have survived, and we have great distribution partners to thank for that, as well as patient, understanding customers like Fish and Co. We survived long enough to be winner of the inaugural NSW Organic pioneers Award in 2012, and the NSW Landcare Award in 2015. Those awards went “straight to the pool room” (ie, the shed!). Other than that, I love making wine and the fact that my first wines are not bad, is also a huge achievement for me. I call them the “Garage Wine Project”.

If you could chose, what would be your last meal and with who (dead or alive)?

My wife Simone, with her Osso Bucco made from our mates cattle from down the road, and a good bottle of Garage Wine.

Any additional comments?

Just a huge thank you to Fish and Co for having us all these years, and wishing you a tonne of good luck and good food in the future.

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