Being born into a family of Eleven children, Cathy Gairn is accustomed to being surrounded by people, and its no different now, over the years, all of her family members have joined her in Tumbarumba, some for a short stay and others for an extended stay.
Cathy’s interest in horticulture goes back to her childhood when she spent time with her grandfather planting vegetables and helping him prune his roses. It was in 1977 when she decided to turn her passion into a career. She headed off to Europe, during this time she worked in Aalsmeer, Holland on an indoor rose farm for cut flower production. Whilst traveling through France she was invited to visit her first vineyard, this is where her love affair with vines began.
On her arrival home she was inspired to take up her studies in horticulture at the Victorian College of Agriculture and Horticulture at Burnley Melbourne, where she finished her degree in 1985.
Her first visit to Tumbarumba was in 1983 with her husband Brian, later returning in 1985 and purchasing their first piece of land. They travelled back and forth from Melbourne regularly until 1987 when they made the move to Tumbarumba a permanent one. Both Cathy and Brian worked a variety of jobs, Brian with his love of fitness and cycling continued his career in Gyms and Security work, whilst Cathy continued with the cut flower production and strawberry growing.
The property site with its western facing slopes, altitude of 730 metres, decomposed granite soils and abundant water supply re-ignited Cathy’s passion for growing grapes. They established Courabyra Vineyard in 1993 first planting 1.4 Ha of Pinot Noir, expanding with a further 2 ha of Pinot Noir in 1994 and in 1995 1.2 Ha of Pinot Meunier and 3.5Ha of Chardonnay.
In 1995 Cathy was approached by esteemed winemaker Ed Carr to supply fruit for premium sparkling wine by contract to BRL Hardy. Cathy was fortunate to have one of Australia’s cold climate experts Ray Guerin to offer guidance in achieving the best quality possible from her vineyard. The wines produced from the vineyard have been the source to acclaimed sparkling wines such as Kamberra, Meeting Place and continue to be for Sir James Hardy Tumbarumba.
In 2000 Cathy met Alex McKay whom at the time was head winemaker for Kamberra wines. Cathy now supplies fruit to Alex for his own label, Collector Wines and Alex is now one of the winemakers for Courabyra Wines. The other wine makers include Nick Spencer from Eden Road Wines and Peta Baverstock from Cuvee Consult.
In 2004 Cathy was awarded the "Citizen of the Year" award for her contribution to the Wine and Tourism industries in Tumbarumba.
In 2017 Cathy was awarded the "Woman of the Year" award in the Albury District for her contribution to Tourism and the Wine Industry in the region and in 2018 Courabyra Wines received an award for being one of the top influencers in Australian Sparkling Wines.