James Sweetapple is a winemaker from Cargo Road Wines, the President of F.O.O.D Week Inc., and the brains behind the widely successful FORAGE event that is held during F.O.O.D Week each year. Originally a city boy, James’ mother was a caterer – from her domestic kitchen at home to the boardrooms of the CBD.
“I remember being bundled in the back of the little Toyota with platters of food for delivery’ says James, ‘I had to sit on my hands for temptation!’
I joined the F.O.O.D Week Inc committee over 20 years ago when I first came to the region. I understood and embraced the philosophy back then, and have basically been involved in some capacity more or less since.”
James’ property not only grows wine grapes but also figs, cherries, lamb and honey. While he has always worked on sustainability, he now practices holistic management.
“The vineyard may not be picture-perfect manicured lawn between the vines, but I haven’t used a mower in five years and with seven species of dung beetle on the property, the manure is buried up to two feet and the organic matter in the soil has tripled.” Such is James’ passion for leaving the farm in better nick than when he and is business partners acquired it in 1997. “For me it’s about the soil that produces the food, that becomes the meal as an expression of culture, bringing people together and creating long and enduring friendships.”
But producing food and wine doesn’t come without its challenges.
“There is no doubt it is a tough gig to make a living from farming. The concentration of the market with the power to two key players means we mostly take the price instead of setting the price. This is where the farmers markets and events like FOOD week have become imperative to ensure our ongoing viability.”
James has noticed the growing interest and broader comprehension of just what makes the region, its people and produce sustainable.
“The connection with the grower or winemaker and their obvious passion for providing a true-to-life experience, really blows people away. Our authenticity is palpable – these are the real people of food and wine.”
Find out more about Cargo Road Wines.