While ever-evolving technology and equipment play a key role in growing apples in the 21st century, it’s the people who are passionate and driven to produce the best quality apples that play the biggest role in their production.
At Montague, we are proud of the network of growers, who we work with to bring the best fruit to you.
To ensure consistency and quality with our managed varieties, we have a select group of growers who, alongside ourselves, produce SweeTango®, Smitten®, JAZZ™, envy™, eve™, yello®, Ambrosia™ as well as our upcoming new variety Kissabel®.
During apple harvest, we spent time with David and Sue Finger at their apple orchard 60km drive east of Melbourne in the Yarra Valley, to understand what goes into growing the perfect piece of fruit.
Get to know David and Sue and see their orchard in action with the video below.
How did you become orchardists?
David and Sue’s family have lived in the Yarra Valley for 150 years, with David a sixth-generation apple grower and Sue a third-generation fruit grower. As David says, growing apples and living on the land is “part of our DNA”.
They started with planting 2 hectares back in 1958 and now have 25 hectares growing JAZZ™, envy™, Smitten® and Ambrosia™. Their Vernview Orchard shows no sign of slowing down either, constantly evolving to plant newer varieties, such as
It’s no coincidence that the Fingers are growing apples in the Yarra Valley – as a cool climate area, it makes for the perfect location, with apples thriving in climates with cold winters and mild summers.
What are some of the challenges you face?
One of the main apple varieties David and Sue grow is our JAZZ™ Apple, which David refers to as the “wilful child that takes a lot of hard work and does all the things wrong”.
There are so many things out of your control when growing apples, in particular mother nature – from sun, hail and wet winters to birds and bats. We use nets, overhead cooling and rely on our weather stations and data modelling to manage these aspects the best we can.
As growers, there is a constant need to manage external challenges throughout the season, but David understands you need to live with mother nature and fit in with what she wants to do.
David says, “people always refer to farmers as being on the land but in the end, you become part of the land” and with that comes the knowledge and understanding of working with mother nature.
While each season presents challenges from weather to workforce supply when the fruit is picked and it's near perfect, David believes it’s all worthwhile.
What is an important part of your job people may not be aware of?
Just like any other job, apple growing practices continue to evolve and as growers, it's crucial to learn. David and Sue know how important this is and throughout their years have travelled abroad to see what other growers are doing.
They believe it’s important to ‘Talk, Travel and Try’ and have travelled through Europe, US and New Zealand to learn about new varieties, new farming systems and new approaches to growing methods.
What do you love about the JAZZ™ Apple?
When David first tried JAZZ™ apples, he knew it was something special, with the balance of flavours with sweet and tart and the crisp crunch.
Not only does a JAZZ™ Apple offer a great eating experience, but Sue loves its aroma and says, “if you could bottle JAZZ™ apples, it would be a great smelling perfume”.
While it wasn’t picked up as the official catchphrase for the JAZZ™ Apple, David believes everyone should try it, because to him, it’s “music in your mouth”.
Have you tried our JAZZ™ apples yet?