One wrong turn from Melbourne Airport to Mornington Peninsula and you’re in the bowels of the CBD; confused, flustered and late.
Fortunately, Avani Wines owner and winemaker Shashi Singh is unperturbed by tardy arrivals.
“Not a problem – take your time,” she says in a gentle Indian accent.
“There’s plenty to do in the vineyard. You just drive safe.”
This kind, caring, motherly nature permeates Shashi’s every move but beneath the calm, there’s fierce determination and an insatiable sense of curiosity.
It’s what drove the grandmother of four to enter the wine industry at the age of 38.
That, and her bright scientific mind and appreciation for Vedic agriculture.
Shashi grew up in Haryana, an agricultural state surrounding New Delhi in north India.
There, the land was planted with sugarcane, wheat and, in the old days, cotton.
Shashi and her siblings spent school holidays visiting their grandparents’ and aunt and uncle’s mixed farms.
The aromas and flavours that defined her childhood were seasonal.
“In winter we’d have a lot of greens cooked in garlic, onion and a lot of homemade butter,” she says.
“So many varieties of different grains and vegetables, beans and tomatoes growing in our kitchen garden. Oranges, apples and the smells of guava [every household has a guava tree], papaya and jamun plum which looks like an olive but is quite citrus and sweet.”
Shashi’s mother was a school teacher and her father was a veterinary doctor who went on to join the army.
“Most people from Haryana are in the army or they’re farmers,” Shashi says.
“That’s why I have a great respect for our soldiers and our farmers.
“They are very close to my heart. Anything connected to them makes me emotional.”
Her eyes fill with tears.
In just a week’s time she is due to board a plane to her homeland to visit her parents and siblings.