Village residents have had different life experiences and for many, the mind remains sharp and willing to take on a new challenge.

There is no better example of that than BaptistCare’s The Grange at Wagga Wagga, the regional city in the NSW Riverina region. 

The Not for Profit bought The Grange retirement village in February 2022 from brothers Scott and Chris Nash.

Resident Ken Larkin, who has been at The Grange for eight years, takes up the story.

“The Nash brothers put in the vineyard and left the responsibility for managing the winery to the residents. Initially there were two or three people involved, then suddenly we would have a lot more people from the village involved,” Ken said.

“We formed a wine club. We now have over 60 members that are involved in the various tasks of running the vineyard.”

It’s not easy work either.

“When there is a harvest, we will start about 6am. We finish about, I don’t know, 12pm, or 12:30pm on two days. It takes about two days to harvest the grapes. Then there are tasks pruning, and that’ll be coming up soon. So that’ll be an early start,” Ken said.

“Most of our members like to start early and finish early. They like their afternoons for some reason. That’s not a problem because we have fabulous morning tea. Sometimes a good barbecue at the end.”

Ken and his team enlisted the help of the Charles Stuart University (CSU), which has a campus in Wagga Wagga.

“One of the key tasks and the hardest task is the processing of the wine, using the press and then putting it into the vat. We have developed a relationship with CSU, the winemaker and it initially helped us produce a better wine. More recently they have taken over the processing of our wines. A couple of the heavy tasks are handled by the professionals,” Ken said.

How much wine is actually made?

“We can make 4,000 bottles of wine. This year our harvest only resulted in about 2,000 bottles. Getting 4,000 bottles of wine, we mean a storage issue, a nice storage issue in trying to find a place to store the wine,” said Ken.

The wine club grows tempranillo and shiraz grapes, which it converts into its best seller The Grange rosé. Shiraz and Tempranillo wines are also made.

Village Manager Watermark & The Grange, Sarah Young, said growing and caring for the wine is a year-long pursuit and it keeps the residents occupied.

“It’s a very industrious village. The residents raise huge amounts of money for all different charities throughout the year,” she said.

“We have the bees as well. We have seven hives with three beekeepers who are village residents.  All up there are about 15 residents involved in the various activities associated with the hives including making the hives, bottling and marketing the honey and producing the soaps, hand and lip balms. 

“It is an entirely resident-driven activity like the wine.  

“It’s an incredibly busy and productive village.”

The harvest for this year’s wines was in March and April and The Grange Wine Club members are now ready to bottle the wines.

“We should have 2,000 bottles across our rosé and Brunello and Shiraz, and that will happen in July. And then we’ll start marketing and selling it in August. We’ll launch the rosé with a with a rosé launch in August, which we have traditionally done in the past,” Ken said.

“We have 100 or so people come along and taste the wine and they’ll take orders on the day. We generally sell 50% of the rosé on the day of the launch.”

The cost per bottle for this year’s rosé is $15.