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 cool 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.