If there’s a silver lining amid the heartbreak that is drought, it’s the community spirit that pours out like you wish the rain would when rural communities are facing adversity. The latest example: Skigh Wine’s new release drought-relief magnum, produced in collaboration with local artist Carolyn Rhodes-Thompson.
Adam Collet, co-owner of Skigh Wines and the driving force behind the project wine, says the idea came from a similar custom label he worked on at a winery in the States raising money for wildfire-affected Californian growers.
“In the States I worked at a winery that partnered with Billy Zane to create a custom label to raise funds for […] growers, and I thought we could use something similar here to help do our bit – in the spirit of mateship.”
Rhodes-Thompson’s label artwork – dubbed Scarcity – touches on, in her words, the “enormity of the fresh water problem in Perth and wider Western Australia.”
“For everyone,” she says, “water is everything. It is our survival.”
Water has long been a fixation for the artist. Rhodes-Thompson grew up in Lake King in the Western Australian wheatbelt where, during a drought-stricken February in 1968, she crushed her foot in an accident whilst retrieving government water from a dam site.
Consigned to a hospital bed for a period of weeks to recover, Rhodes-Thompson began to paint, and never stopped. But it wasn’t until 8 years ago when she began to realise the true influence of water, and Australia’s lack thereof, on her work.
“The painting “Scarcity” or “Multi Story City” [that which is featured on the bottle], was painted during this era of my realisation,” Rhodes-Thompson says. “The sphere represents the water as a bubble which is about to burst. The puzzle pieces are the questions that need to be asked about the future of water supply, which was a hot topic back then.” In light of recent events, particularly on our east coast, it still is.
“I feel that this cause is in my DNA having lived in it and experienced the hardship. I’m proud to think that my artwork, as the result of a drought induced accident, is on a bottle of wine with the purpose of raising funds for the farmers who are struggling because of a lack of water.”
The pair, who connected over their shared desire to bring awareness to this issue, have partnered with charity Drought Angels, who focus on supporting disaster-affected communities and families through the provision of stock feed, produce vouchers and financial and emotional support. Five dollars from each magnum sold will be contributed to the charity; and at only $42 for the 1.5L bottle of goodness, that’s a bargain of a donation.
Though born out of a desire to give something back to the farming community, the new large-format wine ticks boxes in terms of enjoyment, too. Made in a field-blend style, the wine is 75% Karridale Merlot and 25% Karridale Sauvignon Blanc, naturally fermented and contains minimal sulphur. Designed to be served chilled, it’s bright and light and makes for easy summer or autumn drinking.
“I rarely drink alcohol of any kind,” says Rhodes-Thompson. “But as I said to Adam, if my work is to go on a bottle of alcohol, it has to be a red.”
The wine is currently pouring at New Normal in Subiaco and Nowhereman Brewing in West Leederville, and can be purchased direct online , at The Re Store or Gangemi’s.