When visiting the Yarra Valley, there’s no way you will miss the Payten & Jones cellar door. If not for the eye-catching artwork splashed on the building, it’s for the infectious excitement and personalities of owners Troy Jones and Behn Payten. They spoke with Amy Northcott about all things Payten & Jones, Covid-19 and their new release wine devoted to the whirlwind year that is 2020.
Tell me about Payten & Jones.
We grew up in Healesville and in those days if you didn’t study, you went into one of four professions: trade, wine, hospitality or fighting. Jonesy chose hospitality and Payto chose wine – we weren’t good at the other two. We got serious about wine two-and-a-half years ago, and we try to grow and make our wines with as few inputs as possible. Weirdly, it’s harder to do. So much more can go wrong, but the results when you get it right speak only of the variety and region.
How have you been adapting to the Covid-19 chaos?
We started fortnightly Instagram tastings featuring our friends, their wines or beers and of course our own stuff. Timo Mayer from Mayer Yarra Valley nearly cutting off Payto’s arm with a five foot sword trying to sabre a bottle of fizz during the tasting wasn’t perhaps in the plan to start with, but it was desperate times.
How can people help support wineries like yours during Covid-19?
The best way to help us and all the other links in the chain of a small business is to grab a bottle (or three) online. We are using the tour guides who lost their jobs as our couriers to Melbourne, and then Australia Post across the rest of the country.
I hear you’re devoting a new wine to the infamous year of 2020?
2020: Bushfires, Covid-19, hotel quarantine management and Jonesy’s father and grandfather passing away. We can keep going if you want! So in dedication to all that’s good about this year, we’re releasing a mataro called F*** 2020. It’s a drink to remember or drink to forget!
What’s next for you guys?
We’ve just built a new outdoor area at the cellar door, and we are also embarking on an ambitious planting of sangiovese and a little grenache. We’ve also got some of our own new releases due to drop over the next four months, including an orange verdelho with $1 of every bottle sold helping orangutans in Borneo.