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It was only ever supposed to be temporary. John and Melissa moved to the iconic Coonawarra region 25 years ago intending to, in John’s words, stay a little while. They bought a parcel of land ringed by tall Red Gum Eucalypts, and with natural wetlands dotted with Ottelia Ovalifolia, a native waterlily. All these years later John and Melissa are still there. Together they have spent nearly half a lifetime in the Limestone coast region, John working as a winemaker and consultant across its unique wine growing regions, and Melissa establishing a restaurant. Their lasting connection to the region and infatuation for wine has produced Ottelia, drawn from the best vineyards of the Limestone Coast.
Ottelia Ovalifolia is the horticultural name for the waterlily that blooms with white and purple flowers on John and Melissa’s property, it hosts a chorus of native frogs at night and provides the namesake for John’s fascination, his wine label Ottelia. Historically the hardy native grew abundantly across the region; borrowing the name for the wine seemed fitting given the years invested in working in the area’s vineyards. The locals need a place to eat, that’s how Fodder came about. Melissa spent five years establishing and running the restaurant, however with the growth of Ottelia, there came a need for a home base and cellar door.