Carla Rodeghiero knows how important it is to taste wine and have someone talk you through it. She was working in a wine bar in London, supplementing her income as a locum microbiologist, when she discovered a wine that would change her life.
"I became mesmerised by wines, I remember a 1993 Mt Langi Ghiran Shiraz and vowed one day to make a wine that rivaled its remarkable character," she says.
When she returned to Australia in 1997 she began a wine science degree at Charles Sturt University and completed her last residential school in 2004 with her nine-week-old daughter in tow.
"I had some real experience under my belt by the end, I worked on vintages in the Hunter Valley, in Orange and in Oregon overseas.
"But I found it difficult to transition into, say, even an assistant winemaker role. Here in Canberra it's hard to get a job as a winemaker as the region is so small so I just started my own label.
"I thought why not, so in 2013 I launched Sapling Yard and I've been building the brand and the label and making small amounts of wine ever since."
What began as a backyard operation moved into an unused winery at Lake George Winery in 2019. She joined forces with local winemaker Malcolm Burdett and now produces quality shiraz, riesling, pinot noir, shiraz viognier and sparkling wine.
And now they're available at Sapling Yard's very own cellar door at Harvest Fresh in Bungendore.
"I remember what it was like to taste those first wines back in London and have someone talk me through it," she says.
"Having this cellar door, being able to meet people, explaining who you are and taking people through the wines, it's why we do it."
Rodeghiero briefly set up shop at Provisions Deli in Braidwood in late 2019, but bushfires and COVID forced a premature closure.
"We feel very grateful to be in Harvest Fresh now," she says. "It's a great location, with great exposure, people can come in, have something to eat, listen to some music, and we're here up the back if you want to sample some wines."
She says the winery is slowly recovering from the challenging year.
"What with the fires, COVID, our crops are down because of the drought and just now we've had all this rain, it's just extreme," she says.
"The current vintage is looking okay, we'll see when the wines come out. I don't see a problem with the whites, the reds might suffer a bit because of all the rain."
At the cellar door she says to ask for the rose.
"It's very different, it's extremely dry, it's got texture and it's not a frivolous rose," she says.
"The other one is our Four Pinots, it's entirely different, made from a mix of pinot gris from Boorowa, pinot noir from Murrumbateman, pinot meunier from Lake George and pinot blanc from the Sapling Yard vineyard in Braidwood."
The Sapling Yard cellar door is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11am until 5pm.