Back in the day
Aotearoa is Ruby’s motherland, and although she spent the last 30 years trying to squash the accent, you can tell by her love of all things green, grassy, lush and natural that she’s a kiwi by nature. Her first sales job was at aged 9, selling homemade banana smoothies and barbie doll clothes out the front of her house. A couple of decades in various parts of the world, parents who love wine and a fortuitous job in the wine department at Harrods is what led her to choosing to study wine. Adelaide Uni was an obvious choice (no requirement for work visa), and needless to say the move from the USA to Adelaide wasn’t without a few “what the heck am I doing here?” moments. But she came to love its people, its open-mindedness, and especially its wine. Now she loves Craig the most.
Craig grew up in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide, with plenty of mates who’s nonnos and nonnas made wine in their back shed. As a young fella he played footy for Norwood, and when the hamstrings were too short for footy, he played a LOT of tennis. With the Adelaide Hills on his doorstep, the wonder years were spent hooning in his mini and hanging out with good mates listening to too loud music.
The prerequisite stint in hospitality got him his first Kombi and a partiality to wine (who doesn’t drink booze in hospo?). A move across the country to a job as a golf shop and buggy boy at a resort meant days spent in the fresh air and sunshine teaching tourists how to play golf, sail catamarans and generally have a good time. But a season harvesting sugar cane in Queensland was enough for him to realise he had it pretty good in old Radelaide, so he returned. Then he met Ruby.
How we met
At a wine bar – funny that! Craig was the goofy guy across the bar, and Ruby had just returned from the Bahamas, and the rest is history. We are all about teamwork, no his or her jobs, just all hands-on-deck to get the job done and the kids fed.
Geez if you lived here, why the heck not?! But seriously, we love this place. For Craig, time in the vineyard, riding bikes with the little’uns and growing your own food is all soul nourishing stuff. For Ruby, life in Barossa is not as far removed from growing up on a commune on the wild west coast of NZ as you might think. Plenty of synergies… likeminded people, green rolling hills, vegie patch dinners…
Why Arno Wine Co?
Yep we did what all parents do and named a wine business after our son Arno. We like the way Ar-no Wine Co (as in Co-la not Company) sounds. Both our children are involved in our business, that’s how it is for small business. They love to taste the grapes, mix the ferments, spot the kangaroos in the vineyards, muck about in the winery.
Now and how we got here
‘It’s all about the vineyard’ is something you hear/read about a lot when people describe their essence for making wine, that’s because it’s true. We’ve lived in the Barossa for a decade or so and have forged lasting relationships with people who care about their patch of dirt. It’s these people who proudly grow the fruit for our wines. Our aims are to let the fruit speak and let the vintage tell its story, whilst not leaving a heavy thumbprint on the wine. The result is a bright, structured, uninfluenced purity of place for you to enjoy!
Craig learned early on that ‘no question is a stupid question’ and luckily worked with some guys who have shared their insane amount of knowledge. For him, collaboration has been the best tool in the box. Learning the ropes from Matt Wenk and Taras Ochota at iconic Two Hands Wines, as well as a harvest internship in Washington State set Craig up well for a decade as winemaker at a nearby local winery.
Who would have thought that those days selling barbie clothes out the front would give Ruby the confidence to sell bigger and better things? Moving to the Barossa to run a busy cellar door, selling delicious booze was the start of the dream to one day do it for themselves. Ten years as sales & marketing director for one of Australia’s best luxury wine lodges offered a path for understanding tourism as well as the support and confidence to take the plunge into the industry big-time.
May 2017 is when we took what was our side project to full focus, both quitting those regular jobs to launch Arno Wine Co. And here we are… hoping you love our wine as much as we love making it!
With wine, what’s next? It feels like ‘keeping it real’ is the way to go, and that both wine makers and drinkers are really loving the idea of lo-fi, honest wines, that’s good for business and even better for the planet.