At Hounds Run in the Grampians, winemaker Hadyn Black makes the most of his property's superlative natural setting, driven by an impulse towards invention, creativity and sustainability.
From the top of the hill at Hounds Run, magnificent 360-degree views stretch to Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park and surrounding ranges. 'Everything drops away and you can see for miles around,' Hadyn says. He wakes each morning to the sound of birdsong enlivening this incredible landscape. After a coffee on the verandah first thing, he'll typically head out to check on the vines with the dogs in tow and begin his day's work on the farm.
He loves the way you can see the Grampians transform through the day. 'In the morning the sun shines on them and you can see every tree; in the afternoon they're a bit more grey, a bit darker, and expand to fill the whole horizon.'
Hadyn's journey from Perth to the Grampians is one of personal transformation and expansion. From managing a small bottle shop out west, he then found work with a high-end wine merchant in Melbourne, where he 'wrote up and tasted 10 to 20,000 wines in a couple of years'. It gave him 'a fantastic palate education', which he followed with study at NMIT, and jobs in the Yarra Valley wine region and at renowned vineyard Best's Great Western in the Grampians.
'I absolutely love making wines and being around grapes,' he says. The Grampians wine region was first planted in the 1860s, and many family-owned wineries are still in business and producing exceptional wines. The special soil here produces interesting flavours and textures, and there's huge variation across the region. 'Every little vineyard has its idiosyncrasies.'
At Hounds Run, Hadyn produces wines for his label Black & Ginger. 'We're a very small boutique producer. We produce some alternative varieties that are not well known in the Grampians.' While the majority of all wines made in the region are shiraz, Hadyn goes his own way with a grenache, a graciano, and Spanish and Portuguese blends.
'We make one extremely unique wine called Miss Piggy, which is a blend of orange muscat and riesling … It's highly aromatic.' He likes to keep things simple and let 'the grapes do their thing' without tricks or additives. 'The grapes from my vineyard produce a special kind of blueberry character.'
Hadyn's interest in sustainability has found its niche on his stunning property. Hounds Run is a certified organic winery, and he and business partner Lucy have built a tiny house so they can share the beautiful setting with visitors. 'It's completely off-grid, fed by solar panels and batteries. It collects its own rainwater, has a composting toilet.'
The low-impact tiny house accommodation sits on top of the hill with views over the vineyard to the Grampians and the Black Range. When people arrive, Hadyn says, 'their jaws just drop. They see that wicked view and they're instantly happy.'
'People are looking for unique experiences,' he muses. Out at Hounds Run, visitors can pat the neighbours' horses over the fence or wander through the vineyard. 'People love the serenity, waking up in the peace and quiet. They love going for a walk in the evening to gaze up at the beautiful stars. They can sit on the deck and enjoy the view.'
'People are often amazed by the space ... and the freedom to do what they like.'
The house may be small, but it's big on comfort. 'It's beautifully cosy in there in winter. Beautifully fresh and open in summer.' With windows on every side, the tiny house feels spacious and part of the landscape. 'It's got all the mod cons and the luxuries, from gas heating to air conditioning that runs off the solar, almost a full-size bathroom and a lovely kitchen.'
Living in the Grampians feeds Hadyn's creativity. 'We have the freedom out here to chase our dreams.' His next accommodation project is converting a 1956 W-Class Melbourne tram that's been set among the vines. This will also be completely off-grid and yet full of luxury.
A lot of what Hadyn tackles involves patience and slow creation. The tram's been quite a learning experience', he says. 'There's certainly some pride in repurposing something that rattled around the streets of Melbourne for 50 years … It's a hint back to my city roots.'
Plans are also afoot to create accommodation in an old grain silo, which will incorporate recycled materials, such as a huge piece of curved glass that once featured in a revolving door in a Melbourne building and which matches the curve of the silo.
In his short time in the Grampians, Hadyn's produced some fantastic wines and met some great people. These include former sommelier Simon Freeman from Grampians Wine Cellar, who's a huge supporter of local producers – especially smaller producers like Hadyn who have no cellar door – and the guys at Paper Scissors Rock brewery, who do 'a fantastic menu of beers' and stock Black & Ginger wines. Anita from Five Ducks Farm provides the handmade berry jam for the tiny house – just perfect slathered over crusty bread from the local bakery for breakfast.
This tight-knit community has helped Hadyn and Lucy to grow the business and build up the property. 'The people are so helpful, so friendly,' Hadyn enthuses. 'Everybody helps each other out and makes sure they're looked after'.
At the end of a busy day on the farm, Hadyn and Lucy look forward to grabbing the dogs and heading up the hill for 'knock-offs'. 'We've built ourselves a little bar and we sit down there and watch the sunset, enjoy a glass of local wine and watch the dogs roll around in the grass,' Hadyn says. 'You can see the entire silhouette of the Grampians as the sun sets behind them. The trees seem to light up one at a time as the sun goes down. It's absolutely magical.'