It was a classical education; stints travelling and working in Burgundy, Bordeaux and Cote Rotie in France, and Alto Adige and Sicily in Italy.
1987. As a newly qualified wine maker, Rebecca Salmond made the mature decision that the theory she learned at Massey University and Adelaide University's Roseworthy College needed to be fortified by some practical experience of the old-world variety.
Returning home again, Salmond launched Odyssey Wines in 1994, committing to the making of small amounts of premium wine from single vineyard vintages, and aptly labelled after Homer's great journey. The grapes grown in the Marlborough vineyard are organic, having recently been awarded the BioGro certification. From here comes the grapes for Salmond's Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.
"As in Burgundy and many old-world winemaking regions we feel that managing the vineyards organically will allow us to best express that terroir and at the same time give us the satisfaction that we are farming our land in ways that will be revitalised for future generations," says Salmond.
"We have adopted more preventative disciplines in the vineyard and rely on the wind, under-vine weeding, companion planting, grazing sheep as well as seaweeds and sprays and organic fertilisers to control weeds and diseases and to achieve balance in the soils."
Salmond says a healthy plant is better able to cope with disease pressure and Band-Aid applications of sprays to fight disease or pests seldom work and are often expensive.
"We utilise, where possible, nature's tools to assist in achieving high quality and flavour.
The weeds provide competition for nutrients and water and reduce unwanted vigour in our grape plants which in turn reduce crop loads, thus intensifying the flavours in those remaining bunches. We also control water usage as we don't want our plants to be top feeders but would rather they penetrate below the top soil layers, where we get our more unique expressions of terroir.
". . . We feel that managing the vineyards organically will allow us to best express that terroir and at the same time give us the satisfaction that we are farming our land in ways the will be revitalised for future generations."
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"Once we have these inherent qualities in the fruit the winemaking is very straightforward and 'Old World' with little need for reverse osmosis and such technical interventions. The grapes are clean, the juice is in balance and full of flavour.
"The wine is then an expression of our terroir."
The spacings are close, and Salmond and her team do all pruning, vine work and harvesting by hand.
The results are best summed up by master sommelier Cameron Douglas: "Charm, a little elegance, balance, great length and complexity can add up to high quality in a wine. These are also attributes I look for in a wine when tasting and making decisions about restaurant listings. If I can tick the boxes for three or more of these attributes then the wine is well on its way to placement. I consistently tick four or more boxes when it comes to the wine of Salmond. Rebecca's attention to detail and understanding of her craft is obvious in all of the wine she makes."