by Martin Field
Readers familiar with Yarra Yering wines will be saddened to hear of the passing of winery founder, Dr Bailey Carrodus, after a short illness, on 19 September 2008.
A personal reminiscence
I knew Bailey fleetingly in the late ’70s and early ’80s. He was a loveable if sometimes irascible character with an incisive mind. His wines were highly individual and did not always suit the prevailing palates of the day. Despite the critics, Bailey created his own unmistakable style and gained a wide international market.
Strange that we were friendly. When we first met, (I was brash) I shared my considered opinion that some of his ’70s wines were a tad too acidic. I got the inimitable Carrodus look…
He was a kind man. Many years ago when we lived in Alice Springs, he sent us a wedding present: three bottles of red, two of which were broken in transit. As I examined the tinkling, red-stained parcel the freight guy said, ‘That’s not all. He didn’t pay the correct rate. You owe an additional $17.00!’
At Yarra Yering in the early days, I watched as two perfumed, bejewelled ladies of a certain age entered the tasting room. Bailey took one withering look at them and said, in a Basil Fawltyish tone, ‘Sorry, you won’t like our wine. None of it is sweet.’ and shooed them out – they were speechless.
Meanwhile, a young couple were trying to taste the new releases while their toddlers ran riot. The mother appealed to Bailey’s partner, Laurel. ‘Excuse me. Have you got any toys for the children to play with?’
Laurel peered at her for a moment and then said quite firmly, ‘Madame. We are running a winery here, not a kindergarten. Kindly take them outside.’
Afterwards, over a cup of tea, Bailey mentioned that he and Laurel always dressed for dinner and listened to classical music as they dined. Somehow, I was not surprised at his elegant, if old-fashioned, way of life.
Over the years, I occasionally asked Bailey for an interview, about him, rather than about his wine. He probably thought me intrusive and always fobbed me off.