Producer Profile: Indigo Valley Lamb

21 December 2021

Tell us about Indigo Valley lamb; how did it start?Suse: It started out as one of my big (crazy) ideas! We always wanted to own a business together, and we had an absolute passion for lamb (asides from wine, as we had been working in the wine industry). We were looking for a new challenge, something that we could build together. Paul: Ironically, Suse never liked lamb; she couldn't stand the thought of eating lamb before we met. Suse: And then Paul was in a sheep venture with Nick at All Saints Estate, and I tried their lamb and thought it was beautiful. Paul: She started by trying a rack and then thought, oh, that's all right, and then it was chops, then the leg. And now it's anything lamb, including snags [laughs]!

What makes your lamb so sought after?Paul: It's partly in the breeding; the South African Meat Merinos that we use as the paternal, the ram, is probably slightly different. But the main one would be how we handle it; they're a little bit slower growing. Many commercial operations produce lambs very quickly, which means they don’t have time to develop that flavour. It's also how we handle the animals; it's nice and quiet here; they're happy sheep that taste good! Suse: It's also about minimising the stress in the lead up to the butchering, making sure that the process is quick, as this also affects the tenderness of the meat.

What do you think is the most underrated lamb cut?Suse: We've had a lot of joy with lamb rump steaks because they're quick and easy to cook on a barbeque; they're not familiar to most, and they are gorgeously tender. And because our lamb is so fresh it has lots of gorgeous flavours. Racks, of course, are unbelievable but they're a more well-known cut. And the shoulder, cooked low and slow. It’s also delicious cold the next day in a lamb-wich!

Any recipe tips for lamb as part of a Christmas spread?Paul: Butterfly a lamb leg rubbed with rosemary, salt, paprika, cumin and then cook medium rare on a barbeque. Suse: The great thing about a barbeque; you're outside; you don’t get that oven heat in the house. And of course, you have that lovely smell from the barbeque; it gets everyone very excited. It's also delicious cold the next day.

What do you serve with your lamb?Suse: When we're keeping it casual, we serve the lamb souvlaki-style, with homemade flatbreads, tzatziki, and a greek salad for family, friends and kids. Or try fattoush, a lebanese salad with fried bread, tomato, and cucumber. If you're doing a shoulder slow cooked in the barbeque, cous cous and roast vegetable salad is quite lovely. Paul: In winter, peas. We can't help ourselves; lamb and peas are a match made in heaven every time!

What do you love most about Rutherglen?Suse: It's the genuine nature of people, and, family wineries is what Rutherglen is renowned for and all those generations, that history. But it's also the warmth and the friendly welcome that everyone provides. Paul: It's also a beautiful part of the world; it has genuine seasonal changes, summer, autumn, winter, spring; they're defined. It's close to the river, close to the snow, and of course great wine!

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?Suse: Being with the lambs and the sheep every day. They're like our babies, probably more for me than for Paul [laughs]. You provide a lot of love and care, and they all have different personalities, which is quite interesting. And the feedback we receive from people, so people who send us photos and tell us how good it is, even many months later. People remember it. Paul: This elevates what we do from being a commodity product to something special, shared around a table with friends and family; I guess it's like wine in that way, it brings joy, and it brings people together.

Indigo Valley lamb is featured on the menu at Terrace Restaurant, open for lunch Thursday – Sunday at All Saints Estate. Book lunchhere.