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Like a Breeze

Lake Breeze Wines expands its functions business with a flexible new space.

Story: Christopher Holder

Lake Breeze:
319 Step Rd, Langhorne Creek SA
(08) 8537 3017 or lakebreeze.com.au

Lake Breeze winery has been in the family a long time. Roger Follett, carries the station of a man who’s humble enough to understand he’s merely the current custodian of a farm that’s been in his family since the 1880s. He’s not on some ego-driven, flash-in-the-pan hospitality adventure, he’s in the business of developing a stable enterprise that sustains his family now and provides an attractive proposition for the next generation.

The farm had been growing grapes since it was established back in the 1880s. The Longhorne Creek region might not have the same notoriety as the Barossa or the Clare Valley but is as significant grape producer. Back in the 1980s Lake Breeze wines was established. Now, some 40% of the estate grown grapes are used in Lake Breeze wine and the remainder is sold to other wineries. More recently, the estate set up a cellar door sales capacity — refurbishing an 80-year-old tool shed for the purpose. Then a restaurant, that occupies the original farm house. Even more recently, Lake Breeze almost reluctantly entered the wedding reception market. Visitors fell in love with the Lake Breeze winery’s barrel shed and booked it for receptions, but as Venue Manager Ashleigh Hocking commented, it was no small job to accommodate such requests: “The barrel shed is a part of a working winery, not a reception area. It took days to get the shed ready and to bring in what we needed. Even then, the barrel shed has no climate control, no modern audiovisual capability… it has charm and authenticity but not a level of comfort and amenity needed to reliably and comfortably accommodate a wedding reception.”

TUNS OF CHARM

The new function space is quite the opposite. It’s a thoroughbred, purpose-built venue for functions. The build and the fitout is evocative of the other legacy buildings it shares the site with. Local limestone, slate and timber abound. But it’s the barrels that provide the most immediate and visceral connection with Lake Breeze Wines and some of what clients loved about the old barrel shed.

“Every function we have, there’s always a wager about whether the barrels are full or not!” observes Ashleigh. Just to settle the argument, the answer is ‘no’, the barrels aren’t full, but neither are they dumb props — all the barrels have been functioning Lake Breeze wine barrels.

CONVERSATION STARTER

The Lake Breeze function space comfortably accommodates 160 banquet style. It’s a large space but feels warm and inviting. It’s a tribute to the design and the vision of Roger Follett. “We really wanted this space to be as flexible as possible. We have an operable wall but even without activating it you can have smaller parties here and for it to still feel intimate.”

A big contributor to the intimate feel is the acoustics. Often ignored or minimised, the impact of acoustics in a large function space are profound. The high ceilings, the heavy reliance on brick, stone and timber, all add up to an acoustic — if left untreated — that would be clamorous in the extreme. The result would be an escalating noise level as people struggle to be heard. Reasonable amounts of energetic chatter can provide a pleasingly exciting ambience but excitement can soon turn to exhaustion as guests have no choice but to check out for a rest outside or retire early for the evening. And that’s just conversation. Push amplified music into an untreated space like Lake Breeze’s and the noise ‘arms race’ quickly becomes untenable.

Thankfully, the AV integrators, Home Digital Systems, were onboard. Sam Pergoleto, Adam Andary, and the Home Digital Systems team worked meticulously to achieve the exacting standards of the client. They installed sound absorption above the battens and behind perforated board in the pitched ceilings, and then neatly installed Bose DM5 surfacemount loudspeakers among the ‘rafters’. It’s a very well-resolved solution.

“Even coverage was a prime objective for the audio,” explains Home Digital Systems director Sam Pergoleto. “So we knew we wanted the loudspeakers in the ceiling and the Bose DesignMax range proved to be the best solutions for the space.”

Every function we have, there’s always a wager about whether the barrels are full or not!

‘FLUSH’ MOUNT 

‘Flexibility’ was another watchword for the audio installation. Splitting the space into two audio zones provides enough flexibility to ensure there can be a higher energy space for those who like to dance and party (two Bose DesignMax DM8C flushmount subwoofers assist there), and a calmer zone for conversation. Two Bose PowerSpace P4300A amplifiers power all the loudspeakers. Further Bose DesignMax DM5 loudspeakers cover the outdoor area, while even the bathrooms get some Bose love — DM2 in-ceiling speakers. “It’s important that people can hear the speeches, for example, regardless of where they might be,” observes Adam Andary. “And here they get top quality audio even if they’re in the toilets!”

EASE OF USE

Finally, ‘ease of use’ rounds out the list of requirements Roger and Ashleigh had for Digital Home Systems.

“We’re big fans of the  Bose ControlSpace CC-64 Control Center,” explains Sam Pergoleto. “It’s just so easy to use. Ashleigh and her team can simply call up a source or select a zone and change the volume. It’s all clearly labelled and straightforward to non-technical staff.”

The Bose control app is also handy: “Giving the iPad with the control software to the wedding’s master of ceremony often helps everyone to relax,” says Venue Manager Ashleigh Hocking. “Our staff don’t feel under the pump while our guests feel they have the level of control they need.”

THE POWER OF YES

It’s quite the transformation. Not just architecturally but as a business. Expanding from less than 10 weddings a year in the old barrel shed to a wedding or function on most weekends is a serious scaling up for Roger Follett. He’s employing more kitchen and wait staff, and Ashleigh’s feet haven’t touched the ground since the function centre opened. Roger is a man of understatement but it’s easy to see he’s very satisfied with the investment, that started in a modest but motivating state government grant.

Roger Follett: “There isn’t much we can’t accommodate here, it’s so flexible. Weddings are such important celebrations and you will get a lot of interesting requests and it means a lot to our clients that we can say ‘yes’ to just about everything. That stems from a well designed space and a well designed AV system. The flexibility and ease of use just lowers the temperature all round when passions are high and the pressure is on.”

CASING OUT NEW BUSINESS

Catering to a wedding reception every weekend is high-stakes work but according to Lake Breeze boss, Roger Follett, there are spinoff benefits for the wine and restaurant business:

“I’d go as far as to say that the prime purpose of the functions business is its capacity to raise our profile with a younger demographic. From the time we started catering to weddings around eight years ago we could see how they worked as a marketing strategy. We saw how many people were coming back at some stage to the restaurant or the cellar door. And they would bring family and friends. We’re always hearing, ‘Hey, I was at a wedding here the other weekend’. The precise bounce we get from weddings into other parts of the Lake Breeze business is hard to quantify but it’s real and helps the brand. And this helps explain why we run our weddings business in the way we do: people are leaving a wedding reception here feeling great about Lake Breeze and the Lake Breeze wines they enjoyed. Next time they’re sitting in an Adelaide restaurant, they’re more likely to order a bottle of our wine.”

CONTACTS:
Bose Professional: pro.bose.com

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