a chirpy kind a story
A dream was born when mum and dad birds (Rod and Mim Smallman) bought a 10 acre block on Stumpy Gully Road in Moorooduc. Moving from a rural area of Racecourse Road Mornington in 1990 - yes that was rural back then haha. To an even more rural Moorooduc with the idea of planting a small block of vines. But it wasn’t that easy, they had 2 small chicks to raise (Tyson and Lee) with another on the way (Tom)!
shiraz then muscat
In winter of 1999, after 9 years roosting around the 10 acres it was time to get cracking with the dream and plant those vines! Shiraz was first on the agenda. As great neighbours do, a young Micheal Zantvoort from Stumpy Gully Winery helped set up the posts and wires for the vines and provided a pile of shiraz canes from their vineyard.
Mim then started the tedious process of making all those canes into cuttings, then planting them into large barrels for root systems to develop. Mim did such a great job that in the process from the barrel to established vines they only lost 1 vine out of 1050, yep only 1 - that’s some bloody fine viticulture right there! Then winter the year after, the same process was carried out with a pile of Muscat canes collected from T’Gallant.
The first vintage of Shiraz was 2001 and just like that, Chirping Bird was hatched and released into the wild. That little birdie also managed to nab a bronze medal in the cool climate wine show! Not too shabby for a first vintage.
The muscat has has changed its course in flight a few times over the years. From 2002 - 2014 it was made into Moscato. Then in recent years, 2015 - now, it’s been made into a dry yet fruity Rosé! And just to add a little extra variety, in 2008 they made a few barrels of liqueur Muscat. It’s been sitting in the wine store for over 10 years now and will be released under the premium label Moorooduc Plains.
from retailers to full time winey’s
Whilst all of this was happening. In 2002, Rod opened up a Thirsty Camel bottleshop in Frankston South. All of the boys worked there as casual stock fillers and behind the counter (when old enough) all throughout their schooling. Tyson and Tom went on to study at uni and Lee was the one who stuck around. Then in 2009 Rod and Lee opened up a second Thirsty Camel in Rosebud which marked the start of their father son partnership.
At some point in 2016 lots of discussion was had to get out of retail - to stop selling main stream products that people get angry at you for if it’s not below cost. And focus on Chirping Bird full time to build a brand that stands for something far greater!!! So keep your eyes peeled and your ear to the ground cause this little birdie is embarking on a flight like no other.