Most stories have a beginning, middle and end. Ours is still going, so I guess we will start at the beginning...
Darren and Jackie Brown have had a long history in the Tasmanian Wine Industry.
After leaving school at the end of grade 10, Darren signed up to undertake a pre-vocational course in horticulture. In his second year, Darren's instructor told him that Moorilla Estate at Berriedale were looking for someone to help in the vineyard, so he went in for a chat and started the very next day.
This is where Darren's love of vines and all things 'winey' started. He was trained up under the watchful eye of Claudio and Julian Alcorso.
After completing her studies at Drysdale Hospitality college in Hobart, Jackie started working at the vineyard/restaurant at Moorilla Estate. It was here that her love of fine Tasmanian wine began; as did her love of a certain Vineyard Manager and Assistant Winemaker (Hint: It was Darren!)
A decade on and with new owners at Moorilla (better known as MONA today), Darren moved to the Coal River Valley to manage Craigow Vineyard and soon fell in love with the area.
Jackie followed Darren to Craigow and started work managing the new cellar door. It was 1996 and as newly weds, Darren and Jackie decided to purchase a property just 5 minutes down the road from work to call home. It was a blank canvas with a house in a paddock!
It seemed like a good idea to put in a dam for water, and soon after, plant a vineyard. Darren and Jackie dreamed that one day they might have our own cellar door. They had no idea what to call it, but that's ok, they knew something would one day inspire them.
We fast forward to August 2003 and their first wine is bottled - a sauvignon blanc. But, oops! There is still no name to put on the label.
After racking their brains and, with suggestions from family and friends, the vineyard still remained nameless, which was NOT good!
Tears..."discussions"... ensued and then, one afternoon Darren and Jackie were sitting by the dam when the ducks started duck diving like this:
Jackie turned to Darren and said, "when I was little, mum used to call that 'puddling'"
"Puddleduck!" exclaimed Darren. "Thats it!" replied Jackie.
Photos were taken and emailed to a good friend and graphic designer, Sarajayne in Hobart, who came back in a few days with our new logo and the slogan 'Bottoms Up!"
Puddleduck was born... and so was the first label.
The scene was now set: Ducks were to become an integral part of the business!
In 2005, Darren and Jackie quit their full time jobs, crossed every part of their anatomy for goodluck and built a cellar door. It wasn't the biggest cellar door, but it certainly did the job.
As the Puddleduck name and reputation started to grow, so did the group bookings. The Puddleduck "Reverse BYO®" (you bring the picnic food and we supply the beverages) also became more popular with locals. The concept grew out of their desire NOT to be a restaurant.
But, help! There was nowhere to put people if the weather wasn't nice. So, along came the marquee.
The marquee did an amazing job for many years, but the Tasmanian winters (although not to European standards) were not conducive to people sitting down for group tasting as it was essentially a fridge. Just picture people wrapped in blankets...
So plans began (a three year process) to create a "proper" weatherproof area ensuring tastings could continue -no matter what the weather. Building commenced in October 2014 and finished in May of 2015 and Puddleduck finally had a weather proof tasting area!
The whole project had to be created strategically - the footings for the dam went in first then the new toilets and office were built.
Along the way staff started to be collected - family and friends mostly - which was a Godsend for Darren and Jackie who, with a young family and 7 day a week business, were starting to burn out.
Along the way, Puddleduck Vineyard has also won a few accolades such as:
Small Business Champion in 2008
Winner of Tasmanian Tourism Award for Best Tourism Wineries Distilleries and Breweries 2012
Best Cellar Door Southern Tasmania Gourment Traveller 2013
Certificate of Excellence Trip Advisor 2014, 2015, 2016
Silver at the Tamanian Tourism Awards for Best Tourism Winery, Distillery and Brewery 2015
Trophy for the Best Vintage Wine (Bubbleduck) at the Tasmanian Wine Show 2016