WHEN the winter weather makes most normal people shut their doors, stoke their fire and wander around in their ugg boots, Margaret River winemaker Damon Eastough reaches for his surfboard.
Not one to shy away from the big jobs, Damon is known by most in the surfing fraternity, mainly for being awarded the Oakley award - twice.
What is that, you ask?
Each year the Oakley is awarded to the surfer who rode the biggest wave in the southern hemisphere and survived, with Damon first claiming it in 2004 when he took on a 10.2 metre wave, then outdoing himself in 2006 to surf a whopping 15.5 metre wave.
It was not only surfing that attracted Damon to the Margaret River region, but also the prospect of indulging in his other passion of winemaking.
This is how the Flying Fish Cove winery came to be established in 2000, combining the two interests with Damon one of the founding members.
It goes without saying that the region is renowned for both its fantastic wine and spectacular surfing spots, which was the main idea behind the Flying Fish label according to sales manager Kerry House.
"That's what we're really about, the two passions, surfing and wine," Kerry said.
So much so, that their online wine club is named 'Two Passions' which was launched last year to provide customers the opportunity to have their favourite wine delivered to their door.
She said since the very first vintage in 2001 the label's range was primarily focused on the fruit first and foremost, with many of their wines displaying a distinct fruitiness that comes from the renowned sub-region of Wilyabrup, 25 kilometres north of the Margaret River township.
"As a brand, you try and blend your wines so that you are consistent in flavour and format," she said.
"We are always trying to achieve fresh, fruit-driven styles."
As far as wineries go, Flying Fish Cove is quite large in that it employs three full time winemakers and also operates as a contract facility, crushing around 10 per cent of Margaret River's fruit with their state of the art technology.
The vineyard is also quite substantial, known as Wildberry Farm and situated next to the winery where a total of 25 hectares of vines are planted.
But back to the wine.
With winter well and truly in full swing, Kerry said every year there was always a noticeable swing toward their range of reds.
"I think it's something to do with cosy times, you open a nice bottle of red with all those lovely stews and roasts," she said.
"It's all about warmth in winter, with comfort food and comfort wine."
But when it comes to pairing certain dishes with certain wines, Kerry believes there are no rules.
"We're more about our two passions of surfing and wine here, rather than telling people what they should and shouldn't be drinking with certain dishes," she said.
"There really are no rules when it comes down to it.
"If you want to drink a white wine with a roast then you should, it all comes down to personal preferences."
The Flying Fish label's core range of reds were consistent high achievers, including the 2008 cabernet merlot, 2008 shiraz and 2010 The Italian Job.
The cabernet merlot alone has won three gold medals, four silver medals, a bronze in competitions across Australia, and was included in the Top 100 Blue-Gold award from the 2010 Sydney International Wine Competition.
It's not the first time the Flying Fish cabernet merlot has been flying high, as their 2005 cabernet merlot was served to business class passengers 15,000 feet in the air aboard Qantas flights.
This year, in preparation for winter, the winery placed an emphasis on offering a selection of wine packages such as the winter warmer, which has proven very popular.
The pack was introduced at the beginning of June and includes a variety of six bottles of red for only $99, with an equivalent deal for white wine lovers who don't see red in the chillier months.
The selection usually includes a mixture of red varieties, which Kerry said encourages people to try something different that they wouldn't normally go for.
"People that buy the winter warmer package can try something new that they wouldn't necessarily pick up themselves," she said.
"It's great because for people that might usually drink cab merlot, then they would try the shiraz in the package and really enjoy it."
Flying Fish Cove also includes other ranges besides Flying Fish such as Offshore, Wildberry Reserve and Sparklings, all of which capture the quality of the fruit and a freshness that the label is known for.
Kerry said they were now starting the process of submissions for the Royal Show competitions across the country and were looking forward to what the next vintage holds.