Peter and Kerry Scott on 15 February, 2019 at 11:21am
Our sincere sympathy to Faith and family on your sad loss of Mike. Many memories of Mike over the years especially our friendly ex neighbour. May he be at peace.
Erl Happ on 14 February, 2019 at 9:57pm
Mike Kelly from Fermoy introduced me to Mike Sparrow. Kelly bought Pinot Noir from Heron Lake. It was the early years of grape growing in the modern era and there was much to learn. So, we had this common interest in grapes and wine making that led me to purchase Mike's grapes. Mike Kelly and I were curious about the limestone soils, a rarity in this district but very common in Europe. Vines certainly grew and produced well at Heron Lake. Mikes farm was diverse and prolific. The bird life in the lake was just as prolific. Kelly and Sparrow were men of the soil, born natural farmers.
Mike Sparrow was an easy person to get on with. Happs made a bit of wine for him and our purchases of Heron Lake grapes enabled us to grow the business. One winter, perhaps two, we pruned his vines. When we came to plant our Three Hills vineyard the Semillon cuttings came from Heron Lake. It was always a pleasure to call in and have a chat with such a lovely humble forthright fellow, Salt of the Earth, as my father’s generation would say. A man of energy and determination, a good man to share one’s enthusiasm's with.
Those high calcium soils created an interesting and rare situation in winemaking. It’s common to have a potassium tartrate precipitate but a calcium tartrate precipitate is almost unheard of. Frank Kittler was winemaking with me at the time. Frank was another resourceful fellow. In order to promote the precipitation prior to bottling, so that the wine would stay clear in the bottle, we made calcium tartrate in the winery. Couldn't buy it at the time so it had to be made. That was the spirit of the day. People made things happen.
At the beginning there were few trained winemakers. Just people learning as they went along. So Mike, and a relatively small number of others who had no training or experience in the industry, backed themselves, stepping into the unknown.
Tim Finlay on 14 February, 2019 at 9:13am
So sorry to hear of your loss. I liked Mike having known him for a few years now.....
Condolences to you all. I'm sure Mike will be greatly missed.
Tim and Chantal Finlay
Alan Sparrow on 13 February, 2019 at 11:38pm
I recall one of Mike's early visits (probably his first visit) back to the UK. In my teens I was intrigued by my big brother's escapades and skills. He told me to pick a bay leaf from one of the large bushes on the lawn and hold it at arms length. He stood some way off with his stock whip. He cracked the whip with that characteristic sound and cut the leaf neatly in two.
Since he left for Australia when I was only 10 my memories are from those early days and from his visits home. One thing that stands out in my memory is his chuckle in conversation as some amusing anecdote he (usually) or someone else had told.
I am glad for those times when I was able to meet up with him and shall treasure those.
Our love and prayers are with Faith and the family at this time of loss and for the days and weeks that follow.
Alan (youngest brother) -
my wife Chris and the family, Tim, Tom & Emily
Lorraine and Graham McLevie on 13 February, 2019 at 9:49am
Our thoughts are with Faith and the girls at this time.
It was a privilege to be Mike's friend.
He was the perfect vintage.
Mike Walker on 13 February, 2019 at 1:58am
Mike & I met first in 1967 to the best of my recollection and we became good friends from the start. I was fascinated to see his endless library of slides from his previous stints in Australia and I like to think that with his numerous times at our house, got to know our three children, that we had at the time. I believe this gave him an insight into family life and prepared him to cope with Faith’s girls, who understandably may not have made life easy for him in the early days. Mike left for Australia again in 1967/68 making him a £30 Pom! He soon met up with Faith, who was originally from the same area of Essex where Mike & I were working. We didn’t meet again until 1991, but had corresponded regularly over the years. Jill & I had a happy time at Pigeon Grove and equally so when all four of us motored down through France to St Dyé sur Loire. Mike & I had happy times photographing Australian wild flowers and we came quite competitive ‘ my shot, I believe’ became the
phrase of the moment, not that the subject was likely to go anywhere!
Mike was a dear friend and I’m going to miss him terribly from my life.