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Luke fired up about fine wine

Time:2018-01-17 00:42wine - Red wine life health Click:

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LUKE Warren reckons he’s all about putting fires out, but as a winemaker he’s been igniting people’s tastebuds through winemaking for years.

Luke, who has been on Rochester’s fire-fighting front line for the past 19 years, has another life — making some of the finest wines this region has to offer.

Currently the captain of the Rochester brigade, a post he has held for three years, Luke was originally unsure of joining the CFA.

‘‘I thought about it for a little while but never really did anything about it until my brother joined,’’ he said.

‘‘Then when he did I just went along with a mate of mine, we ended up all going and signing up.’’

Now, Luke is a qualified Fire Investigator and Deputy Group Officer in the Northern Campaspe Group.

But life settles down and Luke also gets to spend time with his wife Heidi and one-year-old son Harry.

‘‘Harry spends lots of time at the fire station, but I’ve learnt to spend a bit more time at home,’’ he said.

He said the benefits of being a CFA volunteer are huge, not only for the person but for an employer .

‘‘It shows employers great leadership skills and problem solving,’’ he said.

‘‘Anyone interested in joining can drop in on Sunday’s from 9am or training nights which are on the last Tuesday of the month.

‘‘There are a number of roles both on and off the fire truck.’’

Getting into the wine sector was a different story for Luke.

‘‘I was looking for a job after finishing year 12,’’ he said.

‘‘I went to uni and didn’t like it.

‘‘There was an over-summer vintage position at Tisdall’s in Echuca. I decided I liked it and came back the year after.’’

He started there in 1999 then went and did wool classing in 2000.

‘‘I decided to come back to the wine industry and well, I’ve been there ever since,’’ he said.

Although Luke didn’t like university, he still managed to complete a Bachelor of Applied Science (Wine Science) through distance education.

‘‘I studied from home through Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga as well as Cert I, II and III in winemaking,’’ he said.

Luke now works at the all-local Hopwood Winery.

‘‘We only crush grapes from our vineyard in Moama,’’ he said. ‘‘We have just over 100 acres here which works out to be about 350 tonnes, which equates to about 200,000 litres per year.’’

Their signature wines are Shiraz, Cabernet, Sangiovese and Durif.

Luke said for the quality of wine they make, it is sold at an even better price. ‘‘We sell it at the cellar door for about $13 a bottle,’’ he said.

He described the geographical climate as warm/cool but fairly dry, making it a good in-between area to grow grapes,’’ he said. ‘‘Traditionally it hasn’t been acknowledged that way but if you head towards Heathcote and Melbourne, where it becomes much cooler, other varieties tend to grow better in those climates.

The winery has won a few awards, but Luke said they don’t enter as much anymore. ‘‘We have a few gold medals, I think the last one we won was at the Rutherglen Wine Show for our 2006 Shiraz.’’

While Luke loves his life, he said both fire brigade and the wine sector are easy to get into — but much harder to get out of.


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