🚜 Good Chats: Tractor Textin’ with Iwo
I first met Iwo Jakimowicz and his partner Sarah Morris a decade or so ago when my mate Ned and I ran a wholesale business called High Hopes. Si Vintners was our first stop on a WA-scouting tour. We dropped by Sarah’s mum’s house in Fremantle on our first night. We ended up staying for an extra night missing pretty much everything else. Lol. Classic.
Back then, they didn’t really know natural wine was a thing but they were basically doing it anyway. They’d just bought their first vineyard on the southern end of Margaret River, home to a few 1978 vines. Back then, everyone thought they were “crazy hippies” for leaning into organic farming, wild yeasts, minimal adds and harvesting with the cycles of the moon, because Margs was back then (and kinda still is) one of the most conservative winemaking regions in Aus.
Anyway, the point of all of this is Si Vintners just released their first wines in a couple of years - Ada, Bella, Lello, Babayaga and Sophie. These styles have a nice Old World texture and feel to them. All very limited.
A few other things below…conducted via SMS at 7am while Iwo was plowing his tractor through the vines. Don’t try that at home.
Joel: What time did you wake up?
Iwo: I woke up at 5, there was a commotion in the chicken pen, a fox was tryna get one. Got the dogs to chase it away. Sat on the couch for “5minutes” woke up at 6.30.
Joel: You reckon you’d wake up late if you didn’t live and work on a farm?
Iwo: I couldn’t imagine not living on the farm anymore. But I guess when I stay in the city and have one too many the night before I try to sleep in, rarely past 7 though.
Joel: Describe your view to me right now.
Iwo: Having a coffee looking over the vineyard about to get on the tractor to hopefully do my last spray for the season. Should be picking Chardonnay by mid feb.
Joel: How’s the weather? How’s the surf?
Iwo: No swell around at the moment, and wind is southerly, wouldn’t be any good. Weather’s been fairly hot and dry for a few weeks. High 20s even a couple of hotter ones.
Joel: Iwo, is it true your career in wine sort of began because you actually just wanted to move to Margaret River and surf?
Iwo: Yer pretty much signed up for the viticulture degree cause it said I had to work in places like Margs. Now I rarely surf, maybe a handful of times a year. Go fishing more for my ocean fix.
Joel: It’s January. How does an average week on the vineyard play out besides there being no average weeks?
Iwo: Right now I’m hoping it doesn’t get too hot and no big rains! Drinking heaps of beer… Although right now I’m back on the tractor.
Joel: It feels like with the new wines being released here, it’s the first time we’ve seen your wines in ages. Is this right?
Iwo: We had a spring frost in 2019 so we had no crops this year - about 1 ton / hectare in the Chardonnay…pretty rare here so it’s the first time we dealt with that, it also affected our fruiting buds in 2020. Quality was good but just HD hardly any wine. 2021 was better and hopefully this year even better so with any luck you guys will see a bit more of our tubes over there.
Joel: Also big news you just got your first Demeter/Biodynamic cert. If you’ve basically been growing this way since 2010, why get the cert now?
Iwo: Yer finally got our shit together and did all the paperwork for Demeter. It’s nice to be certified, we can now officially tell people we’re biodynamic. 11 years of working like that so it’s cool to be able to show our customers we are legit!
Joel: When you guys moved into Margaret River, bought your own plot and started making wild wines in a pretty conservative wine region...what did the old guard make of you? Have they come around to the idea of harvesting with the cycles of the moon etc? 🧙
Iwo: Everyone thought we were crazy hippies when we first started growing and making wines at Rosa Glen. Now it seems a lot more accepted. More and more vineyards are organic which is great.
Joel: As a winemaker, getting your own plot of land is game changing. Tell me about the 1978 vines you came into possession of in 2010 where you’re sitting right now. How’d you find it, why did you have to have it and...and how did you manage to make it yours?
Iwo: Sarah and I started making a bit of wine in Margs in 2006, just buying a couple of tons here and there. We really liked the southern end of Margaret River so finally started looking for our own spot. We actually came across Halcyon vineyard by driving past and seeing these old vines and pulling in to see if maybe we could buy some fruit. We ended up having a bunch of wines with Graham and he told us it was for sale. It took a couple of years to get ourselves sorted to actually buy it back in 2010.
It was always a dream to have our own vineyard and run it the way we want. Back then it was nearly impossible to buy any organic fruits in Margs, so doing it yourself was the only way.
We got lucky ’cause it’s actually only a small block for the area, there are only 6 hectares of vines and 1.5 are pinot noir. No one wanted pinot and it’s become one of our favourite varieties to work with.
Joel: Next you got that vineyard in Aragon, Spain. Same as above.
Iwo: Before getting our spot in Margs, Sarah and I had a winemaking gig in spain for 8 years. It started out as a small project but by the last vintage we did there we were doing a million litre blend and working with over 300 growers. We got to know the vineyards very well and when our friend Jesus Angel decided to sell his vines and offered them to us we jumped at it. We have 7 separate parcels total of 5 hectares, the vines are bloody old. The oldest block is nearly 120 yrs old. We love the area, although it’s been a bit difficult with all the travel restrictions lately
Joel: When you guys got your own land and set out on your own, you were able to make wine the way you wanted to. What was the original vision? But also, how’s that vision changed?
Iwo: Our winemaking vision was always just to make something pure. Single blocks. Expressive. We didn’t know the whole natural thing was a thing until we met you and Ned! I guess we haven’t changed much, we just don’t experiment as much and have gotten to know the vineyards since 2010, less fuck ups! And now we are biodynamic official...
Joel: Ok finally, when are we going to Spain? Here to harvest.
Iwo: Hopefully Spain this September, u coming?
Keen to try the new tubes from Si? Good. Because we just restocked.