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In this episode I sit down with one of the worlds most respected wine makers Tim Kirk from Clonakilla Wines outside Canberra.
Tim brings an amazing passion and energy to his work and to his desire to express a unique and complex experience of land, weather, knowledge and wine making.
The Clonakilla story begins in the darkest days of World War II and crosses the world as the young scientist Dr. John Kirk allows the forces of curiosity and risk to drive an idea that changed a generation and gave the world some of the best cool climate wines in existence.
More than simply a business Tim shares how Clonakilla is essentially an aesthetic project, an attempt to express something very special about a special part of the world.
The learning in this discussion is all around the movement from simply trying to make money toward something far deeper and richer. It's about a desire to share your passion with the world. Whatever your product or service you can learn so much from listening to this amazing businessman, wine maker and risk taker.
Find Clonakilla at http://www.clonakilla.com.au/
Jonathan Doyle: Hey everybody, Jonathan Doyle with you once again, welcome to the Canberra Business Podcast. We've got a very special guest. This one is really good, I actually sat here, I just enjoyed doing this, I learned a great deal. You're gonna hear someone in this podcast talk about their business, their product, in a way that few other people ever talk about their product or their service, it's just fascinating to listen to my good friend Tim Kirk, the chief winemaker at Clonakilla here in the Canberra region, talk about the amazing story of Clonakilla, what they've achieved, what they've been able to do globally, the kinda culture they've built, but really what we talk a lot about is product.
Jonathan Doyle: And I think one of the absolute pillars of business success is product. It doesn't matter how passionate you might be, or how good your systems, or how good marketing, or your backend systems, but if your product is not great, you're always gonna struggle. So this is a great podcast, it's about product, it's about beauty, it's about creating something really special in the world. You're gonna hear a really interesting guy, so everybody, relax, sit back, wherever you are, enjoy the Canberra Business Podcast with me your host, Jonathan Doyle, as we talk to Canberra region winemaker from clonakilla.com.au, Mr. Tim Kirk.
Jonathan Doyle: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome, welcome to the Canberra Business Podcast, my name is Jonathan Doyle, I'm your host from Canberra Executive Coaching. Got another special treat for you this week, we were just roaming the streets of Manuka, randomly approaching passersby with business knowledge, and we found someone very special for you, we got a wonderful guest for you on this episode, and today we're gonna talk a little bit about product. We're gonna talk about a lot of things, but I think the challenge in any business is it doesn't matter how much you care, sometimes, it doesn't matter what your systems are, it doesn't matter what your execution's like if you have a terrible product. And today we're gonna talk about a product that many of us love dearly and a product that my guest can be very proud of, 'cause it's an excellent, excellent product that's something the whole Canberra region can be very proud of.
Jonathan Doyle: So you're all sitting there going, "Great, great introduction, who is this?" Ladies and gentlemen, I'm gonna introduce you to a very special friend of mine, this is Tim Kirk. Tim Kirk's one of the great people at Clonakilla Wines out at Murrumbateman, technically outside Canberra but part of the Canberra region, Tim Kirk, welcome to the Canberra Business Podcast.
Tim Kirk: Thank you. It's great to be here.
Jonathan Doyle: I'm excited, I wanna talk about ... Let's start with the backstory. I wanna talk a little bit about many people have heard of the brand, they, many people like wine. But I've been lucky to hear the kind of the backstory to how this all happened, it wasn't just a case of a couple of people thinking, "Hey, let's just ..." I mean, you did just started the business, but take us back to how this all happened. I mean a great brand doesn't happen overnight, a great product doesn't happen overnight. Take the listeners to how did the Clonakilla Wine story come about?
Tim Kirk: Okay that's a great question. It's a great story, it's to do with my dad, really, John Kirk, Dr. John Kirk who is a great man on so many levels, I'm very proud of him. So he's the founder and still the owner of Clonakilla, and fascinating fellow, he's Irish, born to Irish parents, in England, but born to Irish parents, and he ... Fascinating life. He went to boarding school, he was sent to boarding school when he was four, which is pretty tough, I reckon, and it was arguably the scariest year in recent history, 1939, the war had just started and he was at a boarding school not far from Manchester, so north of London.
Tim Kirk: And yeah, he kind of grew up reasonably tough, separated from his family, but the light at the end of the tunnel in those cold, English years was that he would be able to go back to his granddad's farm in County Clare in Ireland, and the farm of course was called Clonakilla, and it was a dairy farm. And it was great, he just loved it, he fell in love with the idea of the farm, really, there, at Clonakilla that was cows, there was milk, there was cream, there was porridge, there was pigs, there was pastures, you know, what more do you want?
Jonathan Doyle: There was less bombs going off.
Tim Kirk: Yeah, totally! And of course 'cause Ireland wasn't at war, it was neutral in the war so there was no bombs going off. Whereas in Manchester, there was. And so that was the first part of the story.
Tim Kirk: And then later dad, his parents were quite entrepreneurial, particularly his mum, actually, she was quite the businesswoman, and in fact one of my visits to Ireland, one of dad's cousins told me that if my grandmother had lived longer, she'd have owned half of Ireland by now. She really was an entrepreneur, and when dad was in his teens, my grandma, Helen, and her husband, Thomas, my grandma and grandpa, they owned a couple of hotels, quite significant hotels in County Clare, and one of them was the Hydro Hotel in Lisdoonvarna. Beautiful music town, hearty town, farmers would all congregate in Lisdoonvarna when the harvest was done. The story was if you were a cashed up farmer and you wanted to find a bride, Lisdoonvarna was the place to be.
Jonathan Doyle: And no drinking of course, there was just mineral water, famous for its mineral water, right?
Tim Kirk: Totally!
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah, yeah.
Tim Kirk: It's the [inaudible 00:05:34]. Anyway, so dad would go back ... This was when he was in his teens, and he'd be put to work in the family business in the hotel, and he was given the job of working behind the bar and looking after the guests in the dining room, and he would be serving wine, he would be 14 or 15 and he'd be serving wine. And more than that, he actually had to deal with the traveling wine salespeople, so he figured he better learn something about wine so that he could make good purchasing decisions for the family business, and he started reading. He's a very bright man, my dad, even as a young fellow he would read a lot, and he would read books about wine, and he learnt in that time about the great wines of Europe, Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone Valley, Champagne, the great Ports from Portugal, you know all this, those great Italian wines.
Tim Kirk: So even before he developed a taste for it, he actually fell in love with the idea of wine, it just captivated him, you know, that you can have this fruit that you grow, a particular variety of fruit, we call them grapes, and that they have a capacity to do something which effectively no other fruit does, which is to interpret the landscape. The French have this romantic idea which they call terroir, which is basically sort of encapsulated in our word "landscape," but it's even more, it's everything that makes a site distinctive, so the soil structure the slope of the hill, the way the wind moves through that particular valley, all of those things, how high the sun gets, how it interacts with the shape of the hill, all that's encapsulated in this word terroir.
Tim Kirk: The French have this view that their grapevine's job is to give a voice to the terroir, and probably the classic example here are the great vineyards of Burgundy, where it's all one grape variety. Pinot Noir, if it's red, Chardonnay, if it's white. And well over 1,000 years they've been growing grapes and making wine in Burgundy, and every little pass of that numerous, mile-long slope called the Golden Slope, the Cote d'Or, is categorized according to its potential quality. And there's four levels, right, so there's Generic Bourgogne, Basic Burgundy, then there's Village Burgundy, then there's Premier Cru and Grand Cru, and it's all about the very specific elements within that tiny little parcel, so it's just fascinating. Dad was fascinated, as you can hear I am, fascinated by this whole concept.
Tim Kirk: And so, cut a long story short, he came to Australia in 1968, he'd been headhunted, I think you'd say these days, by the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry, and they were based here in Canberra at the foot of Black Mountain, and he started establishing his career as an Australian research scientist. But his love of wine had stayed with him, so he started looking around at this climate we have here, and thought, "Well, this is pretty similar to many of the areas in Europe where they grow some of the greatest wines in the world, so why isn't there a wine industry here?" And I think, to his great credit, and I'm so proud of him for this really, he said, "Well, I'm gonna have a crack." He asked around, he asked some of his friends at the CSIRO, "Why isn't there a wine industry here?" And the general wisdom was that it's just too cold. Because if you think about it, Jonathan, you know, the historic wine regions of Australia had been more warm climates, the Barossa Valley, the Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale, generally warmer. But dad's vision of it of course was a European one, so he bought a brand new subdivision of a much larger, wool growing property in 1971, proceeded to plant a vineyard.
Tim Kirk: Now, unbeknown to dad, exactly at the same time another CSIRO guy, Dr. Ed Garric, an entomologist, a brilliant man as well, had part of the vineyard over at Lake George, so we say now that dad, John Kirk, and Ed Garric, and late [inaudible 00:09:20], the two kind of original founders of the Canberra, what we now know as the Canberra Wine District, which has grown to well over 150 vineyards. Soon after people like Ken Helm, of course, came along, and others too, and it just grew, and grew, and grew. And now, as you know, and as I think many people listening to this podcast would know, Canberra wines are really like a hot ticket item.
Jonathan Doyle: They are.
Tim Kirk: Totally, like this cool climate thing, the elegance that we have here, the fineness of the aroma and the beauty of the texture, like it just seems to be a style of wine whose time has come. And a lot of people looking for it, a lot of people writing about it and talking about it and we sell these things all over the world now. We export to numerous countries, and the demand is ... As we were chatting just before we started the podcast, that demand is just growing all the time, and it's a really exciting industry to be in.
Jonathan Doyle: So let's talk about that. When you say style of wine, what ... I mean we talk about it's called climate, what is that for you when you say the particular style of wine we're talking about, why do people like it, why ... I drank it last night and it is just fantastic, but what is that style? What are we talkin' about?
Tim Kirk: In a way, it's a bit of a pendulum swing away from the big, rich, thick styles that most of us grew up drinking, and it's not [inaudible 00:10:40] as one of those styles at all, they're entirely valid, you know, I'm talking about the big Barossas, big black wines full of tannin and gorgeous fruit and plenty of alcohol, and you know that's kind of the style that certainly an export market Australia became known for, and many of us grew up drinking and still love. You know, and really in the middle of a Canberra winter, a big Barossa red is exactly the thing that you might wanna reach for, 'cause of its warming, rich, deep flavor, it's great.
Tim Kirk: But I think there has been a move in recent years, away from power in wine per se to wines of a little bit more refinement and elegance, from heaviness to lightness, and that's a style thing in many ways. But it also suits the sort of cuisine that we're eating more these days, like if you're eating more Asian inspired, Asian infusion foods that you're looking for something that isn't gonna really dominate your palate, you're not looking to be whacked around the head by alcohol, you want something that's a little bit lighter with a generosity of flavor but not a heaviness.
Tim Kirk: That's exactly what we deliver in this region, and a lot of it comes, actually, from something very simple, it's the coolness of the nights. The coolness of the nights. I remember couple years ago I was fascinated by this concept of, "How are we different so from the Barossa?" And I looked up with a Europe meteorology site, and saw that the forecast high for Adelaide and Canberra that day was the same. This was in March, 36 degrees, pretty warm, warm Canberra day, warm Adelaide day. But the difference is in the nighttime forecast for Adelaide, the minimum forecast was 26, and the minimum forecast for Canberra was 16. And it's that downward spiral of temperature we get at night here, 'cause of our height above sea level-
Jonathan Doyle: 600 above, aren't we?
Tim Kirk: Yeah, 600, that's what we are at Murrumbateman, and it just makes all the difference.
Jonathan Doyle: So let's talk about your journey into this. So you had a background a long time ago in the education space, what brought you into this? Were you looking for a change, were you just excited about what was happening? Because Clonakilla has really popped, this is becoming a globally, it is a globally recognized brand, it's an extremely good product that you wanna talk about. What happened for you? I mean, because you've been on a journey, you have become from what I understand extremely educated in this space, so there's obviously been a learning journey for you. You would have picked up some of that as a kid growing up in that family, but tell us your journey, how did you come into being where you are now?
Tim Kirk: That's a great question. Well of course it starts with my family, and as you mentioned there that I grew up in a family where wine was just part of our family culture. As far back as I can remember, wine was always on the table, you know. My dad, he'd always have a couple of glasses, I have never seen him adversely affected by alcohol, it was always something that he partook in in moderation, it was just part of the culture. It may be a bit weirder than most families in that my dad would drink a glass of wine, and then he'd take notes on it.
Jonathan Doyle: Really?
Tim Kirk: I'm not sure many Canberra dads are whipping out the notebook.
Jonathan Doyle: Sitting around with a VB going, "Oh, this is from a different factory, this is a little bit different!"
Tim Kirk: Just make a few flavor descriptors here.
Jonathan Doyle: So he would sit around, and just ... You grew up with this, you grew up with somebody paying attention-
Tim Kirk: It was the culture. It's, that's actually the key phrase, pay attention. Pay attention to what you're tasting, pay attention to what you're smelling, and in his case, make notes. And I suppose that must have kind of made an impression on me. And he would regularly offer a little sip to us, I'd be sitting immediately on his left ... Listeners may not know that I'm actually one of six boys, I'm, we're no girls in the family, six boys, so my growing up dinner table conversations were pretty raucous, there's plenty of ego in the room. They're all brilliant, my brothers, in various ways. So there was lots of energy and firepower in the room, and I'd be sitting to dad's left, but wine was always part of that, you know? And so, pay attention, I saw dad paying attention and he'd offer me a sip, and I'd have a sip and I never really liked it as a kid. But I wasn't afraid of it either, it was never a taboo, was never a big deal, and it was just part of what we did.
Tim Kirk: So when I left home and I left home about 18, I moved into households with other blokes, and I realized, and it was a bit of a shock that actually many people don't have wine with dinner every night. So, I found that when it wasn't there I missed it. And I started looking for it. So I started in small ways, over the next couple of years, investigating wine myself. I'd grown up going out to the vineyard with dad, with one or more of my brothers, often in the company of my brother Jeremy. And we would hang out with dad and probably be less useful than any practical use, like run around chasing sheep around, building cubby houses, climbing trees.
Jonathan Doyle: What are are you when you're doing that?
Tim Kirk: I was probably started doing that when I was about eight or 10, and then through my teenage years a little bit. So again, you know, it was just part of us, part of our family that we had a winery and a vineyard and ... But then, some point, and I can't exactly say when, it just started to become an interest. And I know that when I finally convinced the beautiful woman who's now my wife, Lara, to marry me, this is back in '89, along time ago, you know, I thought well we ... She said yes, and I thought, "Well what we need to do is we need to start buying some wines for anniversaries and baptisms of babies or whatever," that we should have something good, so I bought a box of wine, my first box of wine, and I thought, "Well that'll do." I dunno how many I've now, mate, but one is never enough.
Jonathan Doyle: This is true. I was actually at your wedding, I think I told you that. This was at A&U, yeah?
Tim Kirk: It was.
Jonathan Doyle: Ah man, that's bizarre, that's awhile back. How long you been married?
Tim Kirk: Well, it was 1990, which as some would know is actually one of the great years for red wine around the world. Good year for wine, good year for marriages.
Jonathan Doyle: 1990, you know there's gonna be people listening to this that weren't born then.
Tim Kirk: That's extraordinary, isn't it? That's just rude to be that young.
Jonathan Doyle: So you're out there, sorry, so you buy your first box when you and Lara were married.
Tim Kirk: Yeah, so bought the wine, and then of course one was never gonna be enough, 'cause I just started reading about it and then I just became completely intrigued.
Jonathan Doyle: Were you intrigued for wine ... You just developed the interest, or was it that connection to a family narrative and childhood? Was it both?
Tim Kirk: I think both, I think both. Like, there's a lot of people who get really nerdy about wine, 'cause it's an utterly fascinating topic. But I got really nerdy about wine and we had a winery in the family, so that was even better.
Tim Kirk: So then, 1990, we got married, we moved to Melbourne, and as you mentioned I started a job as a teacher, I was working at the Jesuit Schools Xavier College in Melbourne, and I still to this day, I have no formal qualifications in wine science or wine making. My training's in theology and biblical studies in particular, and I was teaching religious education at this big Catholic boys' school. But there's a couple of great things about that. One is that you're in Melbourne, and there's some really cranking wine regions around Melbourne, you get out to the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, head out your long way, or out to Ararat near the Grampians District, so many, or Rutherglen on the way down to Melbourne, some of the greatest fortifieds in the world. There's so much around Victoria which is just fantastic, you know, for someone who's passionate about wine.
Tim Kirk: And the other thing being a school teacher is we always got holidays around Easter time, like the end of the first term, or the first half of the first semester, and I used to then motor up, and drag my new bride and then our new little baby Madeline up and give dad a hand with the wine making, so I was totally smitten with it by this stage.
Jonathan Doyle: So that's, on that, that's what I'm interested in, what did you feel? What'd you experience? So, you know you're living in this big city in Melbourne, you're doing a job that you're obviously good at, but your heart's not 100% there, if you can go back to that time when you're making, helping, what did you feel? What was it like?
Tim Kirk: It was thrilling. It was thrilling. I just ... Something about every variety has different complex flavors and aromas, and then every vintage has its own personality, every site, every patch of the vineyard has its own personality, so you kinda get swept up in the intricacy and the mystery of it all. Yeah, I still find that utterly fascinating. We've just finished our 2018 vintage, and we make every parcel of the hill that Clonakilla sits on is fermented, picked and fermented separately, and then put into barrels separately, and then we have the great task with my winery manager Bryan Martin and myself and viticultural manager and assistant winemaker, we'll taste through all the batches that we've made, it could be 20 or 30 of them, of Shiraz Viognier, our top wine. Every single batch, every parcel, is kept separate, fermented separately, and we taste it and retaste it, and then we do it all blind to see which are the greatest parcels on any given year, and the greatest parcels are, of course, the ones that become the Shiraz Viognier.
Jonathan Doyle: How big is a parcel? What sort of size are we talking?
Tim Kirk: Two tons, we've got ... Well it can be for a specific amount, I'm not sure how interesting it is, but we've got nine two ton fermenters, we've got ten four ton fermenters, we've got four ten ton fermenters, so everything is kept separate, and lots of one ton fermenters.
Jonathan Doyle: So for all of us philistines, we're talking about a geographic area, 100, 200, 300 meters apart can be-
Tim Kirk: Totally.
Jonathan Doyle: ... Fundamentally different to taste?
Tim Kirk: Totally.
Jonathan Doyle: And that's because of the soil, wind movement, light and shadow-
Tim Kirk: Does that particular parcel of vines face south, or north or east, or west or a combination of the above? One of the soil variations, 'cause there's definitely soil variations over a very short span of territory. And then there's other complexing characters too, like we have numerous clones of Shiraz, all of which are subtly different, some of them are cloned on their own root, and some of them are grafted onto rootstalks, so we have all those complex elements that can have some effect, it's fascinating.
Jonathan Doyle: So let's talk about product, this is what I wanted to get to is tons of business owners listening to this, people are passionate about what they do most of the time, but it's not just enough to be passionate. What do you think are the crucial elements of a great product? What ... For people to be successful in business, this is crucial, this is a real key thing I wanna get to. In your experience, in your work, what do you think is the essence of a great product?
Tim Kirk: That is a great and crucial question, and one that I've thought about a lot. I talk about this actually quite a lot, I think that you have to start, if you're gonna really be successful in business, or in anything that you're engaged in, it's an essential that you make sure you start with a product, I have this [inaudible 00:21:48] as a product or genuine quality. So what's that? Well I can only illustrate it from my own perspective, talking about wine. So we've talked about some of the complexities of the geology out there, Murrumbateman, it's fascinating, it's volcanic soils, decomposed ... It's actually Dacite, technically, it's granitic, but it's called Dacite, and its decomposed Dacite, so it's a volcanic lava flow which has over millions of years turned into soil.
Tim Kirk: But on top of this volcanic Dacite layer, there's this kind of layer of red clay. And I've had, kid you not, Jonathan, I've had dozens and dozens of soil scientists at our place, a lot of them from the A&U, really terrific people out there doing work in soil science, looking at this, they're fascinated by this red clay layer and what it is. And what they reckon it is, is dust that over let's say hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years, has blown in from significantly further west, the Red Center, in the dust storms that even this year we saw one come over and the red dust in the sky is fascinating to see, that has blown in from the west and settled on top of the decomposed volcanic lava flow. Then you've got topsoil on top of that. And that clay is fascinating for its capacity to hold water, but not be impermeable. It's minerally rich, and has various other elements which intrigue soil scientists and me.
Tim Kirk: So we realized ... See, when my dad established Clonakilla, we didn't know what was gonna do well. So dad, sensibly, planted a veritable fruit salad vineyard like lots of small plots of lots of different varieties. And we've realized now over time that you can make a pretty decent wine out of any number of varieties 'cause of the steadiness and evenness of our climate here, but there's something about Shiraz in reds and Riesling in whites, that just really seems to sing here, and ... Well, putting it another way, when you take Shiraz, and you get a decent site with this kind of decomposed volcanic soil with this red clay layer of topsoil, you plant Shiraz in that environment, in this climate with our cool nights and warm days, warm summers and cold winters, you get something which is just like no other Shiraz.
Tim Kirk: It's got its own distinctive personality, and when you get it right, any half decent year, you get these amazing aromatic dimensions like, it smells a bit like certainly more red berries, so I'm talking more like raspberries, strawberries, red currants. But then on top of that there's this floral thing, smells a little bit like violets or roses, particularly in a slightly warmer year like 2018, we just had. And then woven through all of the floral elements and the ripe berries, there's this intriguing spice thing going on, sort of a little like cracked pepper, little bit like cardamon, any ... Like a whole veritable, brilliant, beautiful Indian spice rack, all that dimension in the aroma, like, and we realize pretty early on that that was pretty special. That that was no really like Shiraz from any other place in Australia.
Tim Kirk: It was intriguing, and in fact what it was closest to was the sort of Shiraz that comes out of the Northern Rhone Valley in France, and I visited there in 1991, Lara my wife and I visited Cote Rotie, where there's this amazing wine region just south of the great city of Lyon, steepest vineyards I've ever seen in my life, treacherous to work, where they've been growing grapes and making wine for over 2,000 years. We know that 'cause it occurs, it appears in Roman writings from the period, you know? And they do this thing there, they make this Shiraz there, which has got those similar sort of characters, this amazing perfume. And they do this other intriguing thing, they actually ferment the Shiraz with a small percentage of this white grape Viognier, and here's the amazing part of the story, is my dad, at the suggestion of my brother Jeremy, who's no shrinking violet himself, he's always our senior counselor barrister in Sydney, brilliant guy. But at the age of 13, he said to dad, "We should try to do something a bit different dad, let's find a variety that other people aren't doing and have a crack at that." And dad thought, "Well that's wise."
Tim Kirk: Read his viticultural text, found this great variety of Viognier, which is grown in the Rhone Valley, which is continental inland France, and not so dissimilar to here. Dad planted some Viognier, very hard to find, very feeble little rootlings that took him six years to bear any fruit. Normally you get fruit in three. And that happened to coincide with the year that I came back from the Rhone Valley where I'd seen this Shiraz Viognier. So I said to dad, "You've been working away, growing this Viognier, real labor love and it's about to crop for the first time," and dad's intention had been to make a white wine. I said, "Well why don't we try fermenting it with the Shiraz like I saw them do in Cote Rite," so to his credit, dad said, "Sure! Let's give it a go." We did, and the rest is history, as they say.
Jonathan Doyle: It is history.
Tim Kirk: But back to the question. There's something about Shiraz in these soils, in this climate, which is distinctive, and intriguing, and beautiful.
Jonathan Doyle: So the business insight there, because for people listening, I like to talk about controlling the controllables. Now you guys have leveraged ... It's not good luck, because there was obviously a lot of science and thought and observation and attentiveness, so I guess the first business insight is that we need to be attentive to the environment and the opportunity that's present. What have you guys brought to this? Because yes, this is all true. It's the soil, it's the acumen of a 13 year old guy who's now a barrister going, "Hey, what if we tried this?" I'm interested in drawing out what you guys have brought to the product, because you could put another group of people in the same space, what do you think are some of the things that you guys brought to the success story here? Is it staffing, is it culture? What are some of the core pillars that people listening can go, could apply to their own sense of product or service, what have you guys brought to the table?
Tim Kirk: I think that's an excellent question, and of course it's a multilayered answer. There's my dad's brilliant entrepreneurial step in planting a vineyard in the first place. And in a way the overarching answer to all of those elements is curiosity. Curiosity. So my dad says that he just had that question resonating inside of him, "What would it taste like? What would it smell like if we made wine from this region, from Canberra? What does Canberra region smell and taste like when expressed as wine?" Isn't that a fascinating question?
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah, that's rich.
Tim Kirk: It's a curiosity. And then of course dad worked to establish vineyard, brilliant. My brother's curiosity about, "What if we planted a variety that other people aren't planting?" And then my traveling to the Rhone to see what they're doing in this great region of Cote Rotie, and tasting in the cellars of Marcel Guigal, the greatest producer of Cote Rotie, generally renowned as the greatest producer of Cote Rotie, I had an invitation to go and visit him and taste his wines, and I tasted out of barrel his three great wines, single vineyard, single parcel Shiraz, two of them are Shiraz Viogniers, one is straight Shiraz, Mouline La Turque, and La Landonne, tiny production, very expensive, very wondrous wines, and I was just totally mesmerized by them. They were like nothing I'd tried in Australia, they had this soaring perfume, this elegance, this glorious floral dimension, this complex spice, beautiful red fruit and the texture of the tannins, just so silky and fine. You know, very different to the big, robust blockbusters that we have in this country from South Australia particularly or from some areas of Victoria and I just thought, "Wow."
Tim Kirk: And that's a word too, there was a "wow factor," that I thought, "If ever we could produce a wine from our little Murrumbateman vineyard that in any way approximated the complexity, the subtlety, the elegance, the purity of these wines, I'd be a happy man." And it became my life's task, in a way at that point to attempt that.
Jonathan Doyle: Why? Like I wanna ask that question, I wanna go, 'cause I can see you there and when you say that "wow moment," what is it about being human, or being business people, that you have an experience and if I listened to you correctly it's like, you kind of want as many people as possible to experience that too. What is that? Why not do average wines, why not just focus on making money and retiring to the coast? Why do you wanna share that with people?
Tim Kirk: That's right, that's a good question, isn't it, because all that, in dad's establishing the vineyard, my brother's question, my travel to the Rhone, none of that was about money, you know? My dad was a successful scientist, he never expected to make huge amounts of money out of wine. No, it was about passion. I mean it's about beauty, it's about being captured by something bigger than my own experience to that point. It's about having your vision elevated to see things from a much ... Like standing on a mountain and seeing much further than you've seen before, that's what it was, really. And that's what it still is, you know. Some of it ... Your listeners will have probably been to some of the dinners that we run, and events that we put on, tastings, especially the dinners because they're a celebration of, "Wow, that's what they're about." You know, like we're really, genuinely excited about what we've been able to ... And this is the key word, capture. Not construct, not manipulate, but capture from this environment that we call home, the Canberra region, the Canberra district out there at Murrumbateman. We are about capturing the essence and the dignity and the beauty of that site as expressed in wine. That's what we're doing.
Jonathan Doyle: And you wanna share that with people.
Tim Kirk: Yeah! 'Cause it's a love thing, it's a ... I mean, that's a ridiculous thing to say, probably-
Jonathan Doyle: Not it's not, because what I'm listening to a couple thoughts, so many people in business and we can all get there at some times, is we're so ... It can be stressful, it can be there's so much going on, that everybody's just like, "Are we gonna survive, how do we keep going?" But you're talking about business on another level. Business as a kind of expression of something else. I wanna ask you one other question in a sec, but you said something about I think listeners really need to hear this again, you talked about your father, this concept of curiosity, I think that's a really interesting thing.
Jonathan Doyle: Steve Jobs, as people would know if they've read the biographies, wasn't a particularly pleasant human in some ways, but one of the things that we can admire is this deep desire to create and to bring an experience ... I think he was curious about what's possible, I think it's fascinating you talk about that with your father like, I hadn't thought about that. Being curious about creating things in the world, and risk, like I've been really enjoying Mel Robbins' book at the moment, The Five Second Rule, it's fascinating is this psychological principle that pretty much our brains have evolved to do one thing remarkably well, which is to keep us safe.
Jonathan Doyle: So we, our brains ... I keep trying to tell people this, that the brains we have now are fundamentally very little different to the brains we had about 200,000 years ago, but the environment we live in is fundamentally different. So, our prefrontal cortex is completely wired to be risk averse and to keep us safe, but when you read something like Mel Robbins, this five second principle is that if you don't take action in a relatively short timeframe, your brain will talk you out of it. And so I loved it when you talked about your father taking a risk, because in business, it's part of ... Goes with the territory, right? At some point you have to go, "I believe in this, I wanna try this, I could go and work in the public sector or do something else, but I'm gonna have a go."
Jonathan Doyle: So, curiosity, risk-
Tim Kirk: And beauty. And the wow.
Jonathan Doyle: Create something beautiful.
Tim Kirk: Something beautiful, and that goes back to the original point that product, it's not like ... For me it was never about manipulating circumstances so that I could make money, or a lot of money, it's about actually being seduced by the beauty of something and being caught up in a ... I dunno what to say here. Caught up in the excitement of that, you know, that this is something beautiful. And that's the product of genuine quality, that I just know that it's true, that I'm not making this up. I mean, we've had, as you know, all the major critics in this country have said, in turn, that Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier is one of the great wines of this country, which amazes me. Amazes me! But I'm prepared to concede that that's probably true. And not because of any cleverness on our part, but just because we were in the right place at the right time and we were curious. And we said, and dad said, "Well what would it taste like if we made wine here?" And then the Shiraz Viognier thing, and you know, "What if we made wine more like how they do in France than they do in the Barossa, how would that go?"
Tim Kirk: And so we started using wine making techniques, like incorporating whole bunches in our ferments rather than destemming everything, using French, fine-grain French oak rather than American, which is very standard for Shiraz making in the 1990s, and long, soaking maceration, so leave the skins and juice together for three weeks rather than three or four days, which is what's typical in the Barossa Valley.
Jonathan Doyle: So you just constantly explore, even now-
Tim Kirk: Curious! Totally! And we're always looking for ways of doing that fundamental task better, which is to capture the essence of the landscape as expressed through grapes and wine! That's what we're about. So in a way, we wanna be as out of the way as possible, we don't want to impose what we think the wine's supposed to taste like. We're trying to listen, trying to hear, excuse me, gonna get ridiculously poetic, we're gonna try and hear the song, you know, the landscape singing and to record that effectively in as pure a form as possible through the wines that we make. Now isn't that a fantastic [inaudible 00:35:54].
Jonathan Doyle: Now I'm listening to you and I had two thoughts before when you were actually, really describing the wine, one is like a lot of listeners, when you start describing wine, I'm kind of like, have this strong urge to drink it. I'm just like, when you really get going I'm like, "Tim's talking about wine, this part of my brain's going do you know what I'd really like right now?" And the other thing I'm really excited about is last night I was drinking your 2016 O'Riada, which is guess is still pretty young. But when you were a moment ago you were talking about spice and pepper, last night I'm walking through the kitchen talking to Karen, I'm drinking the 2016, I'm like, thinking to myself, "There's this really noticeable little sense of pepper there." Now I dunno if that's true so please don't embarrass me on the podcast, but-
Tim Kirk: Yeah, totally, 100%.
Jonathan Doyle: ... I just went, I could taste that there. So I'm just, listeners, I'm a little proud of myself that I actually could taste something there. My friend, I wanted to ask you something that you might find really hard. When you talked a moment ago about this "wow" thing, this when you've tasted those great wines and what you're trying to bring in this wine, this business, if you could describe what it is that's so integral about this whole thing, the brand, the business, the product, the experience, in a word or a phrase, do you have one?
Tim Kirk: Well, it's probably back to that thing about hearing the voice of the landscape and celebrating the beauty of that. That does come back to beauty, like I'm very captured by that concept, I mean I just ... 'Cause I'll put it this way, I mentioned that my background's in theology. So one of the, you forgive me if I venture into this, people will forgive me, I know, that one of the things about theology is like, you know, if you believe in God, and believe in God's good, how does that express, how do we encounter that? And one of the ways, historically, that people have thought about that is the beauty that's around us. Just look at the beauty of the world. You know?
Tim Kirk: So for me, as sort of like a theologically trained, passionate person, I work with beauty all the time. I'm trying to see beauty, smell beauty, taste beauty, and capture it so that others can do the same. And I just love that we work, the team works so hard. Our wine making community there at Clonakilla works hard to capture the essence of this landscape, and then we send it out to restaurants in Canberra, and Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, and then beyond to London, Toronto, New York, Tokyo, you know. I just love that, that this little part of let's call it creation, the natural world, and the beauty of it is kind of sent out around the world for other people to enjoy. So. It's something along those lines that I just-
Jonathan Doyle: A beauty thing.
Tim Kirk: ... Still, you know, so many years in now that I just am so excited by, like you know, as I said before, we'll taste the wines we've just made from 2018. We're gonna do a tasting tomorrow, actually, of every batch that we've made in 2018, every Shiraz Viognier batch, and I just know that it's gonna be, it'll be moving! It'll be impactful, it'll be seeing those aromas and flavors and textures that the personality of this particular vintage overlaid on the personality of those particular vineyard parcels, I always find that moving, 'cause it's beautiful.
Jonathan Doyle: I'm listening to you when you talk about beauty and I'm thinking podcast listeners, you're getting a rich feed here today, the Greeks in classical Greece, you know, Aristotle would talk about the transcendentals, if people haven't heard of them they're called transcendentals 'cause they transcend individual peoples' experience of them, and for the Greeks, there was truth, there was beauty, and there was goodness. And the philosopher Hans Urs von Balthazar used to say that for most of us in life, one will be dominant. That most of us will either be attracted to truth as an ideal, to beauty as an ideal, or to goodness as an ideal. Now, he also said you wanna strengthen the ones you're not super strong in, but I'm listening to you talk about business and I'm like, if you're a business owner, what is it about your product or your service that's true, that you can believe is a viable good thing to do, and goodness, like bringing something into the world is good for people.
Tim Kirk: Totally.
Jonathan Doyle: Bringing something into the world that's beautiful.
Tim Kirk: It's never about conning people, it's never about manipulating people, it's about ... You know, if I didn't believe in what we did, if I didn't think that these wines were genuinely good, there's no way I could do what I do being involved in our community making them and marketing them, I just think you have to have integrity and believe in what you're doing.
Jonathan Doyle: 100%. I think what people listening, like, and it's a refresher for me that we have to believe that it is better to do what we do than not to do it, that what we're doing is bringing something into the world that would be missing if it wasn't there. And people might go, "Well that's ridiculous, it doesn't matter!" If you're a florist, you're bringing something to the world that's beautiful, people need, it brings richness ... On the last podcast we did with Jason from Evo, Tony Robbins' great quote about when he's coaching business he always says to people, "What business are you in?" Question one wants people to think about what business you're in. Second question, what business are you really in? And the example he gives is, we said with Jason, listeners would know this one, people in restaurant businesses, you would say to them, "What business are you in?" They go, "Oh, I'm in the restaurant business." And he'd say, "You're wrong." He's going, "You're not in the restaurant business, you're in the experience business. You're using food and ambience and environment to create a rich experience, so maybe if I frame this question for each person on the podcast, if somebody said to you, "Oh, have you met Tim Kirk? Tim's a winemaker, Tim's in the wine business," what business are you really in, do you think?
Tim Kirk: Referring back to our conversation, I guess I'm in the beauty industry.
Jonathan Doyle: You're in the beauty business! So you woke up this morning thinking you're a winemaker, and now you're like, "Oh gosh, I'm a beautician!"
Tim Kirk: I'll tell you, some of the things, moments I'm proudest of like, I've won, or we've won, it's not me, it's our team, we've won significant awards, like I've been named Australian Winemaker of the Year a couple of times, we've won Wine of the Year numerous times, we've won trophies in wine shows. But the things that I'm proudest of, like I remember like once at a dinner in Canberra a couple of years ago, I was talking to some of the folks at the dinner and there was a couple there, you know? I don't think they were ... They were just a young couple, some kids at home, but they just love Clonakilla. And they told me how they buy Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, and they open it on all their wedding anniversaries, they open a Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier. So for me that was very powerful, 'cause I thought, "What could be better than that?" So you're basically there in the context of people celebrating their love and commitment and life together. And all the challenges and difficulties that all of us know that marriage and family entails, anniversaries, those peak moments, and to be there through the wine, you know, to help them celebrate that and that they collect it and the cellar it and they look forward to tasting it on their anniversary to mark those occasions, I thought that was fantastic, and just a thrill, you know, to part of it.
Jonathan Doyle: 100%. We had a beautiful moment last night, it's a funny story, we have a new dog, a beautiful little puppy. My wife Karen has never wanted dogs, always afraid of dogs, she's finally go this tiny Cavoodle, this stunning little tiny thing, she literally rocks it like a baby in her arms. So last night we go to puppy preschool, I stepped up, didn't wanna be there, agreed to do it. And we get home, and we have this moment, we put two of our younger kids to bed, and we're out in the main living area and I'm playing guitar again, getting lessons.
Tim Kirk: Excellent.
Jonathan Doyle: And so I'm there playing guitar, we got candles, it's warm, it's winter, it's beautiful, Olivia my oldest daughter there is holding the dog and Karen goes to me, she goes, "Oh, can you get me some more of that Clonakilla?" And I'm like, so you're right, it was a really nice night. We all sat there, I'm drinking, and for listeners I'm not drinking all the time, but it was just, you're right, it was a beautiful moment, just to share that experience.
Tim Kirk: That's great, that is great. And that's what it's there for, it's ... So it is about relationship, isn't it, and about, you know, I love mealtime's such powerful, community building events both for families, for couples, for friends, it's just, and to be part of the table culture. I think wine is part of the table culture of civilized society, and that's the right use of alcohol. 'Cause I'm very conscious, too, as you are and I'm sure and many of our listeners, about ... That alcohol can be abused, you know, like, I mean alcohol for alcohol's sake can become so destructive, but for so many centuries like, wine has been the table beverage of civilized society, and I'm proud of being part of that.
Jonathan Doyle: 100%. And so what else do you guys bring? So we've talked about the microclimate, the soil, the risk, the curiosity. When I order cases of Clonakilla, it's a seamless process. Your eCommerce is good, delivery's good, everything just works. What else are you proud of, what else you doing well in business people need to hear about? Is it culture, is it your team, is it-
Tim Kirk: Totally. Team is essential, I've got great, great people, it's just an honor to work with the people that I work with, you know. Bryan Martin is my winery manager, and a great wine and food man, he's got his own brand, Ravensworth as well, and they're doing fascinating stuff there. And my general manager David Reist is a fabulous guy, Canadian, just a ... He's in Canada at the moment, great photographer, he does so much of our image work, he takes all our photos for our Facebook feed and our Instagram, and all of our newsletters that we send out, so having that, some of those things in place really good, effective communication, good imaging, of course customer service, and that becomes a cultural thing, too, you know? That we try and respond quite quickly when people place an order, that's not left in the bottom drawer somewhere for a couple of weeks before we action it.
Jonathan Doyle: But let me ask about your staffing, because David has been there for how long, how long has David been there? I know David, and he's been there for ...
Tim Kirk: Well he started off doing some [inaudible 00:45:57] work for us it must be 20 years ago-
Jonathan Doyle: Really?
Tim Kirk: ... Or even longer.
Jonathan Doyle: Alright, so here's the question. Not a lot of places hire people that stay for 20 years.
Tim Kirk: Well we got Michael Lahiff, who's-
Jonathan Doyle: Exactly, exactly.
Tim Kirk: ... He's been with us for close enough to 30.
Jonathan Doyle: That's amazing. He was a lovely human, by the way.
Tim Kirk: He is amazing, Michael Lahiff, you know, many of our listeners might have encountered him somewhere along the track, he's a great gentleman and-
Jonathan Doyle: So why do they stay? I mean obviously it's a beautiful place, you know, you're not stuck in a concrete bunker somewhere, they're in a nice place, but why do your people stay? And I know you don't like to talk too much about you, but why are you not churning staff, honestly?
Tim Kirk: Well, that's a great question, and I'm not sure if I have an answer, but look, it's a great ... As I said, you know, it's a community, we do care about each other, I think, and you know, you always have ups and downs in any business week, there's always moments of stress and pressure. I dunno, it's an excellent question. I just think we got a very positive culture-
Jonathan Doyle: What is that, what is that positive culture, why ... Many places don't.
Tim Kirk: Well, we kind of ... People matter, and lives matter, and families matter, you know, that we try and kinda have a care for each other. I think that's not saying too much to say that, I would like to think that's the case. We, I dunno, what can we say about that? It's actually a really important question about culture. 'Cause every business, whether it's a little two person show or a multinational has a culture. I've been listening to some other podcasts on exactly that topic and I find it fascinating.
Jonathan Doyle: Well tell me like, in terms of how you care for your people. Like I, one of the guys that works here in my office, I buy him health donuts.
Tim Kirk: Health donuts? That's a thing I've never heard of it.
Jonathan Doyle: Health donuts, it's a thing from another local Canberra business, shoutout to Urban Pantry here in Manuka, I go down each morning and get one of the guys here his coffee and health donut.
Tim Kirk: Health donut.
Jonathan Doyle: These new health donuts, they reduce weight. Very special, shoutout to Urban Pantry, not sure if it's true but that's what I tell him.
Tim Kirk: I gotta try that.
Jonathan Doyle: Small details, how do you care for your people?
Tim Kirk: I dunno, I find it hard to put words around it, it's just that corridor conversation, you know, "How you doin'?" Or "How's the family?" Or "What's happening for you?" I dunno, it's just a concern for people, interest in people, 'cause ... I, part of my whole philosophical framework is that people matter, and people matter ahead of profit, or people are your first and last resource, and that they inherently, fundamentally have dignity and matter. That sounds probably a little bit too wafty, because I don't do that very well, all the time-
Jonathan Doyle: Well, people are staying 30 years you're probably doing it more often than not.
Tim Kirk: Maybe. I dunno, I'm sure ... In many ways I wanna reflect on it further because it really does matter, the whole thing about culture, that's a key issue for business I reckon.
Jonathan Doyle: Well just put your advice out on [inaudible 00:49:13], which I know you don't enjoy doing, but for people listening who've got staff, what do you think are just a couple of key points about that, people, and culture, and staffing, it's a big thing, so what could you impart to people practically that you think helps them?
Tim Kirk: Well, yeah, it's ... I think one of the things Jim Collin would talk about was making sure you have the right people on the bus, and then making sure that they're in the right seats on the bus, and I think that's something sometimes we have to learn the hard way, that you do have to make good hiring decisions, and that's difficult, and none of us I think can get that right all the time, but so it's a combination of competency, certainly. Like I'm good at one or two things, and very poor at many things, so it's essential for the functioning of Clonakilla that we have very competent people in the business, because I significantly am not. And we have that. You know, we definitely have, mentioning Michael Lahiff and Bryan there in the winery and Nick in the vineyard, and Annabelle, who's my personal assistant and office manager ... Anna on finance, Jess is Cellar Door Management, we've got David, we've got so many great people, and competence is obviously key, but it's more than competence, it's people who I suppose carry a vision for what we're trying to do, who believe in what we're trying to do, and in a way that's part of the culture too is that they kind of take on the passion that started with my dad as the founder and now continues with me as the CEO and Chief Winemaker that they get it, you know? They get it.
Jonathan Doyle: Is this too much of a stretch, and I really ... I don't believe this is abstract, and it has value for listeners, this concept of building a beautiful business, a beautiful product, is this permeating into staffing and culture, like is that all part of the same whole?
Tim Kirk: Like I said, they're an essential part of it, absolutely. Like as I've said a few times, I just think it's important to enforce that wine is made by a community like, I'm referred to as the Chief Winemaker and I always kind of wince a little bit, because it's not as if I'm making the wine, we've got Jeff in the vineyard, and Brad working with Jeff, working hard every day, like ... It's a community that makes wine. It's a community. And that's a big part of my consciousness, I would like to think, and is increasingly becoming so, that it's a community that makes wine. We all have our different roles to play, but we're all caught up in this great, passionate adventure together.
Jonathan Doyle: I wanted to ask you something else. I often like to say in business that failure is relatively easy, you know, success is hard but it brings with it its own challenges. You guys have had a fair bit of success, especially in recent years based on all these factors. How do you handle success? What stops hubris, how do you deal with success? Do you have a quiet sense of appreciation? I mean some people turn into the office psychopath, how do you manage momentum and success, like, how do you keep the growth engine growing, I mean ... How do you deal with success?
Tim Kirk: That's another good question, I don't really know the answer, you do wanna keep hubris in check and I guess none of us can entirely stay the right side of that line sometimes, you can get a bit uppity and particularly if you get lots of accolades, and we do, amazingly. But you know, being in a community, again, in a family, that has a way of knockin' you if you get a bit sort of, put a few tickets on yourself, there'll be plenty of people around to help you kind of peel them off.
Jonathan Doyle: It's called marriage.
Tim Kirk: Yeah, excellent, that's a great thing. So, it's important to celebrate too, though, the wins I think? We've had a lot of wins as you've referred to, and I've referred to, but we've also had some big challenges, that's another podcast of its own probably, like we've had things like crippling frosts-
Jonathan Doyle: Remember that one year.
Tim Kirk: I remember the 16th of November 1996, where this freezing mass of air rolled in seemingly off Antarctica and settled over southeast Australia, and for four hours it was like minus two, minus three, and we woke up in the morning and the vines just started wilting and shriveling before our eyes, effectively. 90% of the crop gone, you know, and then by this stage you're already talking millions of dollars, so. You know, those sort of things can knock you about.
Jonathan Doyle: Are you a stresshead, do you get despondent, how do you deal personally as a business leader, in a community of people, how do you deal with challenge and adversity and ...
Tim Kirk: Yeah, well there's certainly times in my early years like I remember once I was trying to buy a secondhand fridge in Fishwick, and it was mid-March and it was pouring with rain, and all our grapes were sitting out there, and it was pouring with rain, and I ... I'm a fairly mild-mannered person, but I nearly came to a physical altercation with the bloke selling me the secondhand fridge because I'm sure he was ripping me off.
Jonathan Doyle: Oh, no.
Tim Kirk: Trying to rip me off.
Jonathan Doyle: Just accumulating stress, right?
Tim Kirk: I was just so stressed, 'cause the rain, the rain, the rain, and of course you've got no control. These days I think I'm a lot more, you know, after whatever it is now, 25 vintages, 22 as the Winemaker myself that the ... You're more philosophical, and what will be, will be, what will come, will come, and we've had vintages like 2011 where it just didn't stop raining, and interestingly, I did a big tasting with some other folks just last week, 15 vintages of Shiraz Viognier and I deliberately put in the 2011 as toughest vintage I've ever had anything to do with, and it was beautiful.
Jonathan Doyle: Still good.
Tim Kirk: It's just fragile and elegant, so that's part of the challenge, that you have to learn to roll with the challenges that are thrown at you. You've got no control over the weather so if it rains a lot, well how do you make a good wine in that context? Or if you get a drought year, how do you make a good wine in that context? How do you tease out the best elements of the vintage and capture it in liquid form? You know, that's what I've been talking about.
Jonathan Doyle: You control the controllables, right?
Tim Kirk: Totally, totally. And you roll with the punches a bit and yeah, frost, drought, rain, we've had it all. Plagues of grasshoppers, we've had it all. And you learn over time, by the time you're my grand old age in my early 50s that you've got no control so you might as well enjoy the ride ...
Jonathan Doyle: I'm listening to you, my brother used to say he was a ... My brother was a lawyer for a long time, and there's a famous saying in that space was there's no such thing as a good, young lawyer. Is that sometimes you just gotta get knocked around and especially, I think, in some of the entrepreneurial spaces that I follow, there is this idea that young startups have just gotta be nailing everything, and sometimes you've just gotta live long enough and persevere long enough.
Jonathan Doyle: I could tell a story, our first ever business we had an office at the National Press Club here, and my feet were up on the windowsill, we had a really bad year and my accountant had just been on the phone, and it was like, it was dire. And my feet were up there and I was staring blankly out the window to what's now Hotel Realm, and as wives, as only wives can do, Karen just walked in about something else, she was working with me there and she walked in with a question about some business thing, and she just stopped, and she just looked at me and she said, "What is it?" And I'm like, just sort of explained how bad things were, and then here I am all these years later and we've done really well, and I'm like you just gotta live through those seasons. There was something else I wanted to ask you-
Tim Kirk: And you learn from them, you learn from the adversity and the things that go wrong and the mistakes that you make.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah, I mean what's that saying, you know, it's okay to make mistakes as long as they're new ones, and listening too, to the other big thing I'm into learning more and more about is this general move to mindfulness in general, in culture we're seeing has helped me in the sense that my brain can be very active.
Tim Kirk: Totally.
Jonathan Doyle: But sometimes in business it's, to be able to go, "You know what? I gotta get through 24 hours. I can't control every variable here, but I can do tomorrow." So even last night, like we've been very busy and I'm like, "Okay, I've got three interviews today, new staff saying all this stuff and I'm just like, previously my brain would explode. And but now I'm like, "Just today. Let's just do today." So any podcast listeners out there stressing about their situation, you know what, you can't control two months' time, but you can control today.
Jonathan Doyle: Tim, couple more questions 'cause I know we've gotta get you outta here on time ... What are you looking forward to? What are you looking forward to in this adventure of beauty, this journey of a beautiful product, and a community of people and expressing this landscape, what keeps you going? Why not get some comfy slippers and go play golf, and, what are you excited about?
Tim Kirk: Well, you know, like I am, as I've mentioned, I'm 51 now so like there are many other things I'm interested in. Wine is a great passion for me, as people can tell, I think, but it's not my only passion, so. I love music and I'm glad to hear you're playing the guitar again!
Jonathan Doyle: Little bit of Celtic, got the [inaudible 00:58:12] back out! You still playing a bit?
Tim Kirk: Yeah, totally-
Jonathan Doyle: You are?
Tim Kirk: ... More and more, hopefully, and I'd love to do something more with that, and my ... You're a good mate of my young brother Steve and he's just on his fourth CD.
Jonathan Doyle: He's so good.
Tim Kirk: He's brilliant, so he's got the talent and the application so I need, I've got some talent but I'm a bit light on [crosstalk 00:58:30]-
Jonathan Doyle: Is there a link here between music and wine? There must be, right?
Tim Kirk: Well, it's kinda back to that thing about beauty, you know wine is ... You're capturing something from the landscape, and it gives people so much pleasure, really, if it's done right, and then of course music is the same. I definitely think there's a connection between wine and music. Totally.
Jonathan Doyle: So what are you excited about? What else are you excited about, what are you looking forward to? In your business, what does the future hold for you guys?
Tim Kirk: I love the fact ... You know, I'll say this, that we've been on a journey with the whole Canberra community with our wine, and I think there was a time when ... There was a time when Canberra folks maybe weren't as convinced about the local wines, and you can understand this, you know, like they were small, we were making mistakes, the wine was mediocre, sometimes quite good, and other times ... But that's definitely changed. The last 15 or 10 years in particular, I think the Canberra community has really come to celebrate the local wine industry here, and I find that very exciting and very encouraging you know.
Jonathan Doyle: I think it's because we're proud of it.
Tim Kirk: Totally.
Jonathan Doyle: It's actually ... It is genuinely a really good product.
Tim Kirk: And with reason, you know, we ... Forgive me, this is probably gonna sound a bit vain, but I just know for sure that you can take, say, some of the great Shiraz from this region and put it up against any Shiraz you want to, from anywhere in the world, and I've done it, numerous times. I've seen it in blind tastings, up against the great French wines, great Australian wines, great New Zealand wines, and Canberra Shiraz, often, comes out at or near the top of the tasting.
Jonathan Doyle: Does it really?
Tim Kirk: Seriously! We're not making this up, you know? And I think we have been, we've begun to be effective in communicating our ... And this is a key for you, in terms of how we think about marketing. This is what I understand marketing to be. It's sharing, linking all of the stuff we've talked about together. Sharing your genuine enthusiasm for the genuinely good product that you found, that you have, in such a way that's infectious. That people just want, like you said before, you said that when I started talking about wine you wanted to start reaching for a glass-
Jonathan Doyle: Wanted to go start drinking it, so it's working.
Tim Kirk: 'Cause it's infectious.
Jonathan Doyle: He's using Vulcan mind tricks on me, he's making me wanna drink wine.
Tim Kirk: Well! You know, but it's actually, the wine is actually really pretty good!
Jonathan Doyle: So, what's the essence, I'm thinking about adding value to everybody listening and I'm going, you gotta believe that what you're doing, whether you're a concreter, making wine, whether you're a florist, whether you're in finance, real estate, if you're in a business, you've gotta believe that what you're doing is bringing value to people, right?
Tim Kirk: Totally, do something good. Do something good with what you're doing, you know? Like concrete, we've got a beautiful new cellar door which some of your listeners may have been to, had it for two years now, that's just a beautiful space, and it's got this polished concrete floor, it's a concrete floor! But it's kind of-
Jonathan Doyle: Just looks great.
Tim Kirk: Just looks great, and it's the platform which we stand, and you look up into the vineyard and you look down into the bar and you taste wine at Clonakilla and there's the stone walls there and it's just part of that created environment, it's a thing of beauty. So, do what you do with pride, and find ... Yeah, find the goodness in it, and know that you're doing good for people. I think that's the other thing, and I wanna leave you with, this is no news to you man 'cause this is totally your language, it's working what your values are. What do you value? What's gonna be ... What's important to you, really? You know? And it's not gonna be like I sometimes think, and this is sort of like something, measures of Loyola one of the great heroes of spiritual life said, you should ... Imagine yourself on your deathbed looking back on your life. What are you gonna be proud of really? What were your fundamental values? What good did you do in the world? And it's not gonna be about how manically busy you were, or how much money you made, it's about did I do good? Did I do things which were a blessing for people rather than a burden for them, so.
Jonathan Doyle: It's that great quote, I shared this with Jason on the last podcast is the richest person in the graveyard is not the goal of life. You know? It's about building something ... So I wanna encourage everybody listening like, we're such a frenetic culture, we're so busy and distracted that I personally take one day a fortnight now just to sort of step out and to journal and think, and I wanna encourage people listening to take some time. Go and find a place maybe with some paper where you can just reflect on what it is that you're bringing to the world. If your business is struggling, are you, do you believe in what you're doing? Are you bringing something of value? Any people starting in businesses, people trying to grow, a couple of key things, what do you think are the elements of business, what are the pillars of business?
Tim Kirk: Well, I guess circling back to where we started in some ways, it's curiosity. Curiosity I think is key. Pay attention, pay attention. You know? Like, what ... Where is there something that you can contribute that's gonna actually do good for people that's gonna become a ... Using that word again, a blessing. You know? I think that's key. A product of genuine quality, that's what you need. Something that's gonna be a source of good for people or for the world, you know? Find that, look for that, and be curious. Sometimes these things can be hidden in plain sight. You mentioned Steve Jobs, I don't know much about Steve really, but his curiosity, his fascination with things and his capacity to dream about what might be, you know? Like, I think we have to, as you said, you've gotta give yourself time to dream and think and reflect and stand on a slightly, someone else's shoulders, if necessary, so you can see a bit further than you've seen to this point. It's all out there.
Jonathan Doyle: 'Cause we're just not a massively reflective culture, but based on our conversation I think if you, if people spend a bit more time with good wine and a bit more time with good music, there's a good chance you'll be reflective. Now I gotta get you outta here so I'm gonna, I'll do an outro after Tim's gone, but if you're listening to this and you haven't, try Clonakilla. I don't wanna be rude, but I dunno what you've been doing, and you should just take a moment to chastise yourself because-
Tim Kirk: Don't be too hard on yourself.
Jonathan Doyle: Don't be too hard on yourself, and after you've been hard on yourself, have a good glass of red wine, because I wanna direct you the website, clonakilla.com.au-
Tim Kirk: That's correct.
Jonathan Doyle: Clonakilla.com.au. This'll all be in the show notes, but if you haven't tried this wine, then no matter ... Even if money's tight, get yourself a bottle, get yourself something nice, and enjoy this ... it's not only you're supporting a great Canberra region business, you're doing yourself a favor. I'm gonna put links to Clonakilla's Instagram, we're gonna connect you to their social feeds, get on their newsletter because they do these amazing dinners just with ... Another way to support the local business community, they do it with some really great restaurants like Monster and other places and it's a chance to sample some great food, get some friends together and try some amazing wines, and I've been to one, and as humble as he is, Tim is a great, would we call you a raconteur? Is that what we'd call you? Is that-
Tim Kirk: I think I prefer evangelist.
Jonathan Doyle: Evangelist, he's a product evangelist, he's a great theological evangelist but when you go to his wine dinners he makes everybody in the room feel comfortable, 'cause I know that some of us are afraid of that wine snobbery or wondering if we can taste the floral notes and so he'll make you feel very comfortable, it's a great way to spend time with good friends, so let's connect you to all that stuff. So go check out the show notes, but for a start check out clonakilla.com.au, or Clonakilla Wines, do a Google search, you'll find it. I've loved doing this, I wanna thank you my friend, I've enjoyed this, I have the best job at the moment, it's really good to do this. Thank you for bringing beauty to the world. Thank you for supporting this local community with a great business that we can all be very proud of, and I'm gonna book you back on the show, 'cause we have a lot more philosophical musings, we could start a new podcast on that, so thank you my friend, thanks for coming.
Tim Kirk: Pleasure, Jonathan, and thanks for all you're doing mate, this is great.
Jonathan Doyle: Awesome, thanks pal.
Jonathan Doyle: Well, there you go, how good was that? Well when I sat there in the room time just absolutely flew, and Tim was animated, he was passionate it was just so good to hear him talk about something so close to his heart, so I dunno if you were anything like me listening to that you kind of felt, "Maybe it's time to go and have a glass of red wine," if you're feeling that way and I recommend that it's a good idea, jump on the Clonakilla website, grab yourself some of the best wine in this country, and support a great local business, and you will really enjoy this great product.
Jonathan Doyle: So, that's it for me for this week, from Canberra Executive Coaching I'm Jonathan Doyle, if you wanna get in touch about personal executive coaching or business consultancy, please reach out to me, I have the privilege of working with clients all over the world. If you wanna take your business, your personal wellbeing, your personal effectiveness to another level, get in touch with me, it'd be great to make contact with you. But for now, that's it, make sure you subscribe wherever you're hearing this, Apple Podcasts, Google, Android, wherever you are, there'll be a subscribe link here so you don't miss the next show. For now, that's it from me, have a great week, tune in next week, it's gonna be god. I'm Jonathan Doyle, speak soon.