By Melissa Sheil
Lyn Sykes has owned the winery with her husband Michael since 2002 and is gearing up to celebrate their 19th year as a stop on the festival registry.
“We’re old hats at the festival, I think we might be one of the longest running participants in it,” she said.
“It’s grown so much from when we first started, there’s loads more visitors and the range of venues has extended hugely, I think we started with about six or so and now there’s almost 20 with ciders, gins, artisanal furniture and art.
“We always have such a brilliant time with the family and friends that come to help out as extra staff and the atmosphere for our guests is lovely.
“Hopefully we’re getting more professional and refined every year.
“It’s always very flattering when people come out and say how much they love our property and our products.”
Ms Sykes was studying a bachelor of viticulture at university when she purchased the property as an already established vineyard.
“It came up organically and we came out to visit and knew we had to get it.
“I thought, ok may as well learn my field on the job.
“Now I work part time here and part time as a mental health nurse, but I find they go a bit hand in hand, I do find it very healing to be amongst nature, therapeutic for my soul to be in this beautiful valley and forest.”
In 2017, the Sykes handed over management of the café they established on the grounds to Benôit and Chantelle Lasplace.
“We found we had shifted our focus a bit too much onto the café which was only meant to be an extra for our wines, a sit-down spot to grab a bite while you drank,” Ms Sykes said.
“Benôit is a marvellous chef, he’s worked at Rockpool and Print Hall and really elevated the profile of what we can do on this property.”
The café, now a French bistro restaurant called Mistelle, will also be open for the Harvest Festival, serving a three-course set lunch meal and a four-course long table dinner highlighting the flavour of “fire”.
Hainault will offer a sit-down wine tasting experience along with platters and picnic baskets, and entertainment by musicians throughout the day.
The Bickley Harvest Festival runs on May 1 and 2 and is a non-ticketed event, though some venues may require prior bookings.
Visit www.bickleyharvestfestival.com for more information.