Established in 1850, the property of Yeringberg is one of the oldest farms in the Yarra Valley. Its history is well recorded and its wines infamous. Though our visit on a sunny Monday morning was not to learn more about their outstanding vintages, it was for Yeringbergs other speciality – lamb.
When we arrived at the 166-year-old home of the De Pury family we were greeted by four sheep dogs and 4th generation farmer David De Pury. Practically a neighbour of ours, just off the Maroondah Highway, David lives on the farm with his family where he manages the vineyard and a flock of 2000 sheep.
In true farmer hospitality we jumped into his ute and were taken on a guided tour around the properties 2000 acres. Our visit coincided with the busiest time of year on the farm and a fitting feature for our spring edition of Seasoned.
Stones has been buying Yeringberg lamb since we first opened, David used to walk a large flock under the Maroondah Highway and down St Huberts Rd to our neighbouring orchards. “It was a bit of fun in the off season and gave the pastures a rest and a nice change in diet for the flock. Consumers and suppliers struggle to understand the seasonality of our lamb.” He tell us. “Sheep traditionally give birth in Spring because of so many factors such as the weather and the pasture. I get people in May calling for lamb and it makes me laugh.”
Everywhere we looked we saw young lambs at various stages of age, from seven days to newborns with umbilicals still attached.
David tells us all about the birthing period and rearing such a large number of livestock. “Of 2000 ewes we’ll get 2500 lambs per season.” David allocates one ram per one hundred ewes, “After two weeks the ram is waiting by the gate, desperate to be let out.” he laughs.
“We divide flocks up to about 80 pregnant ewes per paddock. It keeps things manageable and there aren’t too many issues with young ones losing their mums.” Predators are part of nature and don’t seem to faze David though he does welcome hunters on the property.
“A few guys go spotlighting at night and can come away with 8 foxes a night each. The state government have a bounty on foxes so everyone wins, except the fox of course.” Stopping to admire a wedged tail eagle on a tree only 20 metres from us, provided a moment
of comprehension. It was hard to fathom the history of the land we stood on. The thousands of animals that have roamed the pastures, the generations of farmers and the indigenous people before them that have all stood and admired the view of rolling green hills and bright blue skies that make up the Yarra Valley. The De Pury’s story is explored in more detail and can be seen online through ABC’s Landline and we encourage all readers to visit on Yeringbergs annual open weekend on September 24-25. Look out for this seasons lamb on the menu across our three restaurants. Yeringberg lamb is also available at The Beef Joint butcher shop in Healesville.