When Arimia was established in 2004, it included just a vineyard and an olive grove, producing some of the Margaret River’s finest wines and olive oil. Starting in 2012 as a cellar door, with the help of Chef Evan Hayter the venue has grown into something much more substantial: a totally regenerative, organic property which raises pigs, farms trout, chickens, bees and has a vegetable garden, all producing offerings for the ‘hatted’ restaurant.
Like many small businesses COVID-19 has decimated Arimia’s market through lockdowns and border closures. The business ceased to operate in March, and all staff began leave without pay status. Thankfully, with the help of government assistance, they were able to retain five staff members but four of their staff were not eligible. While the cellar door and restaurant had to close, the agricultural activities had to continue, and their staff were significant in keeping the farm going.
The restaurant is the estate’s main source of income and covers the cost of the other agricultural activities that provide its produce, so its closure meant financial stress. Thankfully, their diligent staff worked tirelessly, and they reopened on the 21st May, however the loss of income over the closure significantly impacted the business.
When they reopened, social distancing regulations fitted well with the principles under which Arimia operated. Minimum numbers and a set tasting menu ensured minimal waste of produce. Their customers were thrilled to be out and about again and responded very positively to Arimia’s menu changes. They thoroughly enjoyed the experience of not having to choose their meal and were delighted and surprised at what was offered. The owner, Ann Spencer says COVID has forced much change in our world, but it has been such a pleasure to see customers enjoy some of the changes and their Arimia experience.
Arimia has worked solidly to build relationships with likeminded suppliers from the Margaret River region. Also, working collaboratively with other regional wineries and chefs at local annual events such as Cabin Fever, Whole Lotta Rose days and other celebratory events is an important focus of their business – supporting others in our industry to build a world class Margaret River region. Arimia also supports community initiatives, for example, their local school is currently fundraising to continue its environmental education program and develop an Indigenous curriculum.