Changing of the dogs at Duke’s Vineyard

Duke Ranson with cellar door queen Cindy. Duke’s Vineyard

Duke’s Vineyard, source of sublime Porongurup riesling and excellent shiraz and cabernet in WA’s Great Southern (especially the Magpie Hill label), has been sold, as founders Duke and Hilde Ranson are retiring.

The new owners are Ben Cane and his partner Sarah Date. Ben was previously chief winemaker at Cape Mentelle, Margaret River. They are currently making their first vintage at Duke’s Vineyard with Duke’s long-time consultant winemaker Rob Diletti.

Duke and Hilde, who bought the property in 1998, have always maintained the quaint and charming habit of mailing out a printed newsletter and price list. The electronic age may not have penetrated to the deep south of WA. Part of Duke’s regular jottings is poetry, and although The Real Review doesn’t usually publish a lot of verse, we are moved to quote Duke at length this time, as it may be his last newsletter, but more importantly, because the poem itself is allegorical and just a little poignant.

Old Dogs…New Dogs

There’s a new dog on the block and he’s young and fit and lean.

He gets on well with Cindy who remains the cellar queen.

His name is Dujac and that’s a place of wine.

A winery in France with Burgundy divine.


His breeding’s somewhat vague but Kelpie comes to mind.

With a bit of Border Collie somewhere intertwined.

His job is to watch his master as Ben walks to the fore.

To eventually relieve Cindy at Duke’s Vineyard cellar door.


In the meantime, it’s all learning with customers in mind.

To look after feline lovers as well as the canine kind.

To play with kids to entertain while parents have a taste.

And when he gets in trouble, to disappear in haste.


It is an age-old story of the old dog and the new.

The young dog chases all the kids and the old dog just a few.

The young dog gets his meal and devours it oh so fast.

The old dog sits and ponders hers to make the pleasure last.


It’s really just history of the passing of the guard.

The logic is so simple, but some dogs make it hard.

Some old dogs are so stubborn, to weaken is a sin.

But just move over old dog, the new dog’s movin’ in.


So now it’s Ben and Sarah, Duke and Hilde have a spell.

We’ve changed not just the people, we’ve changed the dogs as well.

The vineyard carries on regardless with good weather from above.

But the wine that bears the label, will still be made with love.

– Duke

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.