When you’ve been farming in the same pocket of South Australia’s Barossa region for seven generations, marrying into that kind of legacy is immense.
The family specialty is wine with the oldest remaining vineyard dating back to 1875. But something else is cooking on this impressive estate – sourdough bread- and just like the wine, it’s baked with the principles of organics and biodynamics in mind.
Amie Kalleske has turned a hobby into a thriving business, offering diversification to the regular income streams on the property.
Surprises of rural life
The woman pairing the bread with the wine has come a long way since her university days when she describes herself as having a “black thumb” in the garden and would often call her mum to ask how to make spaghetti bolognaise.
Fitting into life on the land was easier than she expected though with her husband’s property so close to town. “It’s incredible. You can actually live on a farm but be 5 minutes from a town. It was mindblowing to me because I always thought it had to be either the city or the country. I didn’t realise there was anything in between,” she explains.
It was mindblowing to me because I always thought it had to be either the city or the country.
When Amie first met her husband, she didn’t like wine, she didn’t know what organic meant and she certainly couldn’t cook. So, how did she end up easily feeding a family of five daily and baking hundreds of loaves of bread a week?
She says she learnt a lot from her mother-in-law and gradually built her skills from the very first purees she made for her babies. Now, she’s the proud owner of a micro-bakery.
Taking the Covid sourdough trend to the next level
Amie would often make bread for the family but when Covid hit, she couldn’t source yeast in the supermarket. So, she dug out the sourdough starter from the back of the fridge that she’d tried and failed with prior.
“I kept playing. I kept feeding my family these bricks of bread and they kept smiling and nodding and being very, very nice. Then, one day I got a nice loaf, then another. I shared it with friends and family and it just happened.”
Incredibly, Amie was baking just one loaf at a time in her home oven. Six loaves would take hours. “I said to Kym, I’d really like a bread oven. He looked at me like I had two heads! I told him it comes from Belgium and it would be here in about three months,” she laughs.
That was the beginning of being able to share her bread with the community. At that stage, Amie was the first person to sell sourdough on the Greenock side of the Barossa Valley. The oven can take 12 loaves at a time.
“It took off. I initially started selling to other families at the kids’ school. As the demand grew, my skills grew and I ended up having two retail outlets here in the valley. One in Greenock and one in Kapunda. Before I knew it, I was baking about 125 to 130 loaves a week, twice a week.”
I kept feeding my family these bricks of bread and they kept smiling and nodding and being very, very nice. Then, one day I got a nice loaf, then another.
Amie describes her set up as very simple – a shed, a glass table and the oven. “All that goes into it is flour, water, starter and a bit of salt.”
Amie finds working the dough relaxing and meditative and a nice break from the farm book work. However, as one woman, she can’t keep up with demand with early mornings and long hours. She’s had to make the conscious decision to stay in the lane of micro-baker, even though the community is crying out for commercial quantities.
When she’s not baking, Amie enjoys supplementing family meals with home grown produce. “I’ve lost count of how many kilos of food I’ve grown. Now I’m into preserving a lot of that produce. During Covid, I learnt it’s a really uneasy feeling relying on someone else for your food,” she shares.
Amie’s long-term plan is for the bakery to be 100% homegrown. The family is currently prepping some paddocks for wheat. Mmmm, we can smell that bread in the oven now.