Until 2020 Evan was up to his ears in percussion instruments, working as an orchestral musician with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and on staff at Camberwell Grammar School, teaching drums and percussion. However, all this time he was a harbouring a dark secret. He wanted desperately to escape the glitz and glamour of the Concert Halls of the world and get into the murky depths of fermenting grapes and learn to become a winemaker. Even before putting down roots in Heathcote in 2007, Evan had flirted with the idea of growing grapes and making wine, helping out with vintage at various wineries in the Coonawarra and King Valley. It wasnʼt long before the intoxicating allure of CO2 and sulphur was enticing him back. He enrolled in a viticulture course and began studying winemaking, with an eager impatience to get back to nature and try to produce something out of nothing. The arrival of the COVID pandemic in 2020 caused the cancelation of all impending orchestral concerts, and was the stick that finally broke the drum, so Evan decided to finally hang up the triangle and get to work!
Wendy’s passion for food began during childhood around the family table, but she cut her teeth professionally in the kitchens of London in the 1990s, working as head chef in a French style bistro in Islington for many years. On her return to Melbourne she set up a catering business, with a focus on nutritious and delicious food, servicing what was then the Melbourne College of Natural Medicine. Wendy swapped her knives for chalk in 2002 and has spent the past 20 years in the secondary and tertiary education sectors, teaching mostly Psychology (along with Health, Food Technology, Positive Education, Careers and more). Wendy’s passion for food took an academic turn when she qualified as a nutritionist, and she has since incorporated this knowledge into her approach to food. The garden at 3DE is ever-expanding, enabling Wendy to include home grown produce where possible in the dishes she produces from Mudstone Ridge Kitchen.
Situated just one and a half hours north of Melbourne on Taungurung country, Heathcote has a rich history of gold mining and sheep farming dating back to the 1850s. Situated at an altitude of just over 300 metres, the property lies on 20 acres of undulating hills and rocky outcrops with expansive views to Mount Alexander in the west. We discovered the property in August, 2007 while visiting the region for the Heathcote Wine and Food Festival.
The house was rescued from demolition in the Melbourne suburb of Box Hill and transported in two halves to the property in 2008. All the original Art Deco features remained intact and the house has gradually been completely renovated. We have also entirely retro fitted the property to be as energy efficient as possible by adding underfloor, wall and ceiling insulation, a roof air extraction system and external wall shading.
When deciding what to plant, food production and edible plants are the priority. Here at 3DE, the garden and orchard produces an abundance of produce throughout the year. As well as citrus (lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange, mandarine) there is a full variety of stone fruit including nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots, as well as cherry, avocado, fig, pear and various nut trees (almond, walnut, macadamia). Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate, strawberry, passionfruit and kiwi fruit are also thriving. The vegetable garden also produces a wide array of seasonal produce that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
The off grid system has changed significantly since the original installation in 2008. Back in those days, a 120 watt solar panel would set you back almost $900 so we had to settle for just 3 panels and 2 batteries!. Until August 2021, we had been functioning pretty well on a relatively small DIY, 1.8kWh system and a 300 watt wind turbine. In August 2021, we upgraded to a (professionally installed!) 5.5kWh system with a 7kWh lithium iron battery system. This new setup will happily power our two fridges, chest freezer, washing machine and a split system A/C unit, as well as our new microwave oven!