Sasha Foley had a background studying fine arts in Melbourne before wine took over. “I developed a passion for the dirt,” she says, reflecting not just on her love for wine, but also the importance of the vineyard to her philosophy.
After further studies in winemaking, she worked at leading Margaret River wineries Xanadu and Cullen. Sasha met future husband Ben McDonald on the driveway of Glenarty Road where she had come to buy grapes. Together, this husband and wife team are the driving force behind Glenarty Road, a sustainable farming and winemaking venture in Karridale, in southern Margaret River.
They are both passionate about ecological farming. “My family have been farming for five generations, and I want us to be aiming for at least another five,” says Ben. “We are here for a long time not for a good time,” he jokes.
“The sheep are integral to the vineyard. We have 400 little lawnmowers each with four legs that keep the weeds down and keep the place looking like a bowling green. The bugs we buy (which are seeded in the vine canopy to protect the grape bunches) cost the same as pesticides. But they are better because the grapes are happier. The wines don’t have those stressed out characteristics.”
Sasha has also taken inspiration from Vanya Cullen, who has been a pioneer of sustainable winemaking in Australia.
Ben planted the vineyard back in 1997 as a 19 year old. “My parents didn’t drink but my nana and mum loved growing plants.” After helping his neighbour plant vines in what is now Vasse Felix Karridale, Ben was inspired to plant his own. He sold the fruit for a number of years before launching the Kerfuffle range in 2004. Winemaking is not an easy business. Ben was close to pulling his vines when Sasha showed up in his driveway ten years later.