By Kirra Grimes

WINE and cheese are a perfect match, so it made perfect sense for Burke and Bronwyn Brandon of Prom Country Cheese to partner up with local winemaker Mark Heath on an exciting new venture.
Summer visitors to Burke and Bronwyn’s stunning Moyarra sheep farm and cellar door will not only enjoy delicious lunches and cheese platters while watching sheep grazing in the surrounding paddocks, they’ll also be able to see the farm’s new vineyard come to life, as the freshly planted vines begin to grow.
The idea for the new vineyard came about after vine cuttings from Mark Heath’s Gippsland Wine Company were recycled by Prom Country Cheese, turned into ash and rolled onto the now famous Black Sheep cheese. “Jokingly, we said, why don’t we plant a small vineyard next to the carpark?” said Mark.
What started out as a joke has now turned into a seriously exciting new project that has already got the neighbourhood talking.
One thousand vines will be close planted on an undulating northerly aspect with the vision of low cropping and premium quality. Varieties planted will be Pinot Noir – acknowledged as the signature wine of South Gippsland – and Sangiovese.
Mark says the site’s good drainage and fertile clay loam soil make it ideal for cool climate wines and close planting and that both of the chosen varieties are a great match for Prom Country’s cheeses.
Mark will manage the vineyard, with Burke contributing his valuable farming experience. In keeping with the Prom Country farm philosophy, fungicides will be kept to a minimum and the sheep will be used through the dormant period to keep the grass down.
The posts are in the ground and wired up, and the first Pinot Noir vines were planted last week.
The first grape harvest is expected in three to four years.
“The recent rain has been fantastic. If the gods are good, we might have a small crop in three years’ time.
“We’ll definitely have one in the fourth year,” Mark said.
There is also plenty of space to expand the vineyard, with Burke saying “this is just the beginning”.
Since opening the cellar door in 2014, Burke and Bronwyn have always championed local produce in their lunches.
“Everything cooked with and sold in our shop is from South Gippsland. We’ve always stocked local wines and wine has become an integral part of what we offer.
“So we got thinking about planting grapes right here. We like that our customers can see the source of their food and wine right in front of them while they’re eating lunch. The whole aim is to focus on what we can produce here and showcase what’s produced in South Gippsland,” Burke said.
Though this vineyard is their first foray into winemaking, it’s not the first collaboration for Prom Country Cheese. For the past two years, they’ve been using milk from Wattlebank Park Farm to make their cow’s milk cheeses.
Mark says it’s great to see local producers from different fields working together to make premium produce and offer the consumer a “unique tasting experience”.
To check out the vineyard and sample some great cheese, head to 275 Andersons Inlet Road, Moyarra. Prom Country Cheese will be open every day through January and on weekends from February onwards.