Cupitt's - proudly Shoalhaven
Rosie and Griff Cupitt’s retirement dream of a small farm and a vineyard - just for a “bit of fun” - has grown into one of the Shoalhaven’s premier tourist and hospitality businesses.
Cupitt’s Winery was born out of Griff’s desire to return to working on the land and Rosie’s keen interest in horticulture and viticulture. The couple retired to their South Coast holiday home from Bowral over 15 years ago. Griff missed farming so they started looking for a small farm where they could pursue their passions.
They bought the historic Washburton Farm, set on 193 acres, and started establishing a small vineyard.
According to Libby Cupitt, Cupitt’s Customer Experience Manager and daughter-in-law, Rosie and Griff soon realised they needed a way to retail their product, which led to the opening of a small restaurant.
However, the operation was so successful, that the restaurant has twice expanded and now has a seating capacity of 150.
“Rosie and Griff were astounded by how popular the place was from the get-go,” Libby said.
“They really didn’t plan on the restaurant, it was all about making wine and having cattle. The restaurant has ended up being the engine room of the whole business.”
Not only is the restaurant an outstanding success, the Cupitt family has extended the business to include a brewhouse, a fromagerie where Rosie crafts unique cheeses, an extensive kitchen garden, and one of the region’s most popular and picturesque wedding venues.
Rosie and Griff’s two sons, Wally and Tom (Libby’s husband) are also involved in the family business.
Libby and Tom left London to come home to the Shoalhaven, get married and to lend a helping hand about seven years ago. They had no plans of staying - their ultimate goal was to live in Melbourne - but they fell in love with the place.
“We had no intention of staying but we saw the potential, we love the area, love the beaches, the community, everything,” Libby said.
“We lasted six weeks in Victoria, we couldn’t get the Shoalhaven out of our mind. Plus, the appeal of mountains of free wine is pretty strong!
“Hospitality is addictive - once you dip your toe into the water it’s pretty hard to walk away from the adrenaline and excitement.”
Libby paid tribute to Rosie’s passion for food and wine and said Cupitts had always been about regional produce.
“Rosie has always been a big advocate of enjoying regional produce when she travelled.
“We find and use local producers, we pay a fair price and give them the credit they deserve.
“The philosophy of the restaurant developed from wanting to make all of that ourselves. We’ve had a huge growth in our kitchen garden, we produce as much fruit, vegetables and herbs on-site as we can, as well as the Angus beef that’s used in the restaurant.
“Paddock to plate, or farm to table is the age-old phrase but it’s exactly what we’re about.”
It’s the same philosophy adopted in the winery and brewhouse.
“At Cupitts, we want to let the grapes speak for themselves,” Libby said.
“We use minimal intervention, such as chemicals, and keep it as natural as possible.”
The vineyard grows Semillon, Sauvignon and Verdelho grapes, and uses grapes sourced from the regions of Hilltops, Tumbarumba, Southern Highlands and Canberra District.
All beers are single batch and brewed in the small 3hl brewhouse on the property. Cupitt’s beers are unpasteurized and unfiltered and, like the wines, the processes are simple but aim to retain as much flavour as possible.
Libby said the region had a strong business network.
“The local businesses are so supportive, we’ve been very fortunate to be given support and advice.We also have access to learning and development opportunities sponsored by Council through the Economic Development Office.
“It is a great place to start a business, it’s so vibrant and the whole community is so supportive. We work with wonderful businesses, from accountants to HR consultants, web designers and photographers.
“Whatever you need to find, you will find it here in the Shoalhaven.”
The Cupitt family is not content to rest on its laurels and has future plans included building cabins for accommodation, expanding the kitchen, winery and brewhouse and hosting education workshops and retreats.
Contact: Libby Cupitt
Phone: +61 2 4455 7888