For the love of Grapes & Opals

Peter Fyffe, owner and wine grower of Glenwillow Wines is a man of many colours and passions.  He grows grapes, mines opals, lives in an underground house and loves the wines that his grapes produce.

The wines come from his vineyard at Yandoit, which Peter along with his brother and a few friends developed by scrubbing out a sheep paddock on the family farm and planting the vines.  The result, after twenty years of hard work is an award winning range of premium red wines recognised as a Bendigo Big Red.  As a Bendigo winegrower, Peter is part of the Bendigo Winegrowers Association, which he said has been overwhelmingly beneficial, especially in the early days.  Peter says, “It’s astounding how supportive the association is, particularly to smaller producers.  Even though we are all competing to get our wines out there, everybody helps everybody else, offering advice, sharing ideas and experience”. 

Not content with just being an acclaimed wine grower, Peter and his wife Cherryl are passionate opal miners.  As Peter says, “No-one gets rich growing grapes or digging for opals, but it’s something that gets into your blood.”  Peter and Cherryl travel to their underground house in the desert in far northwest New South Wales three or four times a year.  They came across the town of White Cliffs accidentally while caravanning around the region and were attracted by the friendliness of the locals who have in turn, become friends.  “The country also gets into your blood” says Peter.  Adding “The desert surrounding White Cliffs was once, millions of years ago, an inland sea.  When you sit in a dug out, looking out at flat planes, knowing it was once an inland sea, you realise how special our land is”. 

The support and camaraderie Peter and Cherryl have found in the wine world, they also found in the world of opal mining.  Peter laughs when he says, “We have combined both passions as our mining friends have now become wine drinkers.  Each time we travel there, we take a trailer load of wine with us and sell Glen Willow wines to the locals, who just love the Victorian drop”.

Covid has restricted their travelling this year, but this intrepid couple will be off with pick and shovel as soon as they can. 

In the meantime, Peter and Cherryl enjoy running their Cellar Door and Art Gallery at the Bendigo Pottery, where visitors can not only enjoy the wine tasting, but also appreciate Cherryl’s jewellery, which she creates with her son Cameron.  The Cellar Door is open Friday to Monday most weeks.  To learn more visit www.glenwillow.com.au

There is only one week until the reimagined Bendigo Heritage Uncorked Festival, hosted by the Bendigo Winemakers Association, presents the first of six online wine series.  Click here for full details.