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Two Rivers Winery: Meet the Custodians of the Landscape.

Two Rivers Winery: Meet the Custodians of the Landscape.

What does a remote Hunter Valley vineyard have in common with the ancient art form of stone masonry? For Brett and Linda Keeping of Two Rivers Winery, it is a unique sculptural installation that has been lovingly interweaved into the viticulture of their estate. drinks bulletin took a moment to speak to the husband and wife duo about how this injection of a different kind of art into their Denman-based winery continues to drive increased traffic to the cellar door.

When Brett and Linda Keeping were pitched to by international artist Ben Dearnley, about his vision to enhance the topographical beauty of their vineyard, the ten uniquely carved sandstone sculptures that now lie as one with the Two Rivers vineyard greatly exceeded all and any of their original expectations.

‘Custodians of the Landscape’, the aptly titled installation whose construction occupied the bygone winter of 2015, saw 20 tonnes of sandstone lying unused throughout the vineyard transformed into a unique site-specific sculptural attraction.

Since its unveiling by Australian screen icon Sigrid Thornton in late July, the installation has been none other than a huge success, generating high levels of buzz for Denham and the surrounding townships, as well as attracting visitors and tourists from afar.

While for the Keepings, Custodians of the Landscape is a reflection of the ever-changing moods and seasons of their vineyard, as well as the pair’s commitment to the preservation and protection of their land, for all those who have travelled to sample Two River’s award-winning wine, it is an added surprise, greatly enriching the cellar door experience.

DB: Tell us about the name ‘Custodians of the Landscape’. How did it come about and what does it mean?

Linda: Well, Brett actually came up with the genius behind that one. We just felt we’re paying respect to the landscape so we are custodians of what we’re doing right here and now. We’re looking after this landscape and these rocks, and these sandstone sculptures are symbols of what we do.

Brett: Ben turned up and it didn’t take long for us to really get in sync with our ideas on things and he picked up really quickly on the fact that viticulture and sustainability are really at the heart of what we do here. We work very hard on our vineyard, we take a lot of pride in the land and we realise that we’re only the custodians for a short time, and so our goal is to hand it on in better condition than it is in now.

DB: Do you think there’s a strong connection between art and wine?

Linda: Definitely, I think people appreciate the fine art of winemaking, so therefore if that can be transpired into people coming here and seeing amazing sculptures I think there lies a wonderful synergy.

Brett: Without a doubt, because winemaking is an art and they’re just such compatible things. You know people come here to enjoy themselves, sit back and relax. If we can offer them something else other than just tasting our lovely wines then they’ll come back again and again.

We really hope now having started this project that this is just the start. We’d love to take it to another level and get other forms of art in here. In the past we’ve set up the cellar door as an art gallery for paintings and that’s been really successful. We’ve had a couple of really great art exhibitions here, but we’d love to take the next step and maybe every two years get an artist in-house and keep building on what we’ve started.

DB: How do you think this affects the experience of your cellar door visitor and have you experienced notable reactions and feedback?

Linda: Well it’s just been a wonderful add-on for the area. This addition to our cellar door has got the local people talking and telling visitors "oh you must go see the sculptures at Two Rivers". It’s a good buzz and it was great when Ben was working here. He was so interactive with the general public. They’d park the car and go watch him tapping away and you know half an hour later we’d be thinking are they going to come in [through the cellar door] now?

Brett: The wonderful thing about this project too was that it was totally organic. It used 100 per cent of the materials off of this property, which is pretty unique in a way. Because we’re a large scale vineyard you know we’ve got big fork lifts and tractors, and all those sorts of machines that can move these materials around so to a) have the rock, and then b) have a means to deal with it and then have a world class sculptor to apply his craft with it was just a fantastic opportunity.

To learn more about Custodians of the Landscape, visit http://www.tworiverswines.com.au

 
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