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For the Victorian Sikh family behind Nazaaray Estate, wine making is more than a passing folly
A panoramic expanse of lush greenery, with rows and rows of beautiful grape vines, greets you at Nazaaray Estate, situated on the Mornington Peninsula. Nazaaray produces award-winning artisan wines and has reputed restaurants like the Vue De Monde (Two Hat) and Simone’s (Two Hat) on its customer list.
Nazaaray is the family-owned venture of Paramdeep and Nirmal Ghumman. Paramdeep is the winemaker responsible for the award-winning pinot noirs and pinot gris, while Nirmal is the marketeer and in charge of the cellar door events. They are ably assisted by their viticulturist and assistant wine maker Ranjit Gill.
Originally an IT specialist, Paramdeep arrived in Melbourne with his family on a freezing cold, gloomy winter day in 1981. They thought they had made a huge mistake migrating to Australia.
Having been bought up in the foothills of the Himalayas, Nirmal yearned for wide, open spaces. Most weekends the family would make day trips out of Melbourne. This sowed the seeds of wanting to own an Australian bush block. That dream came true ten years later.
It took another six years before Paramdeep made the decision to do something more challenging with the land. He joined NMIT (Melbourne Polytechnic institute) for a course on viticulture and wine making.
“We had no anxiety or apprehensions about buying Nazaaray,” said Nirmal. “For us this was what we did to unwind and get away from our busy professional lives. We spent the weekends in a cosy room which was part of an old cattle shed and all day out in the sunshine looking after our piece of heaven.”
The Ghummans planted their very first block in 1996, which Nirmal very cheekily named, ‘Param’s Folly’.
“For the first seven years we didn’t have any electricity and it was great bonding time for our young family. Many board games were played and every evening was spent around a campfire lit in an old washing machine tub. We shared the shed with hay bales, which often had snakes, and we often played hide and seek with them as we went about our business,” she shared.
There was a lot of trial and error in the earlier years. But the hobby was soon turning into a business. For a turban wearing Sikh, breaking into the wine scene was a bit challenging.
“It is important to get over the initial reservations and let people see who you really are; that helps breaks down barriers,” said Paramdeep. “Aussies are a great bunch.”
Nazaaray produces some excellent pinot noirs and Paramdeep attributes it to their terroir – the soil and weather conditions of the Peninsula.
“It is a reasonably tough environment; winters are wet windy cold and summers are dry – the clay cracks because of the strong ocean winds.”
Nazaaray also produces small batches of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and syrah. It is often difficult for artisan wines to have a strong retail presence, said Paramdeep, but their wines are stocked at Porters in NSW and a few outlets in Victoria.
Most of their selling is done at the cellar door and online. Their regular customers find it a very convenient way to have quality assured drinking wine at a reasonable price delivered to their door.
‘Tiffin Time’ is an experience that’s unique to Nazaaray. It is a buffet lunch at $45 per head that is held about six times a year. You can relax in beautiful private picnic spots among gnarled old boobialla trees overlooking the vineyard. Sip your wine along with hot Indian food whilst enjoying the view. On other weekends you can bring along your own picnic and use barbecue spots which are provided. Wine has to be bought at the cellar door.
When asked if he has any words of advice for those who are contemplating the wine making journey Paramdeep replied, “It will be the story of Bees saal baad (20 years later) – Do you have the endurance to last the distance?”