Vineyard’s secret to growing Childers with special events
WHOEVER says retirement means slowing down hasn't had the pleasure of meeting Marianne Lethbridge and Ed Murray.
Even retiring in their 60s wasn't enough to get them to slow down, with the hardworking couple purchasing Vintner's Secret Vineyard, 13 years ago.
"We bought this place as a reaction to retirement because we wanted to spend our senior years making, creating and producing and to us, this was just our next adventure," Ms Lethbridge said.
"Sometimes people say to us that they are dreading the next chapter but we want to encourage people not to feel gloomy about growing old … as the saying goes, we want to ride up to God's gate on a motorbike and when we jump off go 'wow, what a great ride.'"
And Ms Lethbridge certainly isn't exaggerating - with the couple transforming the vineyard into the perfect venue for weddings and events, as well as housing wine tasting at the cellar door, a café, live music and an arts hub.
Surrounded by beautiful greenery and stunning hillside views, guests at the venue often compare the picturesque setting to that of Vermont and while the passionate green thumbs invest their heart, soul and time into the spacious gardens, they intend to grow much more.
"Our main goal is that we really want to grow Childers as a destination and increase exposure for our little town," Ms Lethbridge said.
"We really encourage people to explore - we have four wineries here in Childers, roadside food stalls selling local produce, beautiful farmland and natural gifts - like our amazing leopard trees."
While COVID-19 meant the venue was unable to hold some of their most popular events including their seasonal vintage markets and French Affair Festival which runs alongside Bastille Day, the couple have improvised and have many upcoming events to look forward to.
Known for their exciting art workshops, from mosaics and book making to welding for women, the pair will host an art therapy session from next month.
"Most of our classes and workshops that we've hosted over the last few years has been born out of conversations with our visitors," Ms Lethbridge said.
"Art therapy is a response to COVID-19 concerns, as recently we've heard a lot of people are feeling cooped up and isolated.
"This particular workshop will allow them to express their frustrations and anxiety about feeling locked in, but it will also allow them to feel safe and socialise in a lovely setting with cake, coffee or wine."
Local artist Jane Marin will conduct the art therapy sessions, which will occur every second Thursday from September 3. All materials are provided and each session costs $40.
For book lovers, the venue also has a free library and book club called Reading Between the Vines.
Musician Daniel Champagne will be performing live at the venue on October 3, with tickets available on Eventbrite. Wine and cheese platters are also available to purchase to enjoy an afternoon on the lawn.
The talented pair also produce their own red and white wine off-site and have just launched their own line of jam and chutney using locally grown produce.
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