It was summer of “94 and Chris was spending New Year’s break up on the Murray River skiing and enjoying the warm nights with great friends. He was five years out of school and managing projects as an A grade electrician. But during that summer, Chris decided there had to be a more creative path in life for him. With an unbridled passion for timber, Chris made an audacious career move. In a small workshop he began turning timber. His respect for the timber and his ability to bring out its unique beauty saw him become a leader in the woodturning industry in a very short time.



With strong support from Australian furniture makers such as Arthur G & Moran, Chris’s team began to grow, and so did the size of his workshop and woodworking machines. He was now supplying table legs, bed posts, couch feet, lamps among other items to some of the country’s largest and most respected lounge and furniture makers. Pretty auspicious beginning, but there was more to come.



Having perfected the art of woodturning Chris turned his eye to making handcrafted timber furniture. With passion, comes detail and with Chris’s high level of workmanship the orders naturally follow.



Tables are on display in 46 showrooms across Australia – Chris has certainly secured a solid reputation as a master craftsman. With demand exploding it was time to move the furniture part of the business into its own workshop.



An opportunity arises to sell the woodturning business and the time feels right for Chris to focus all his energy on making handcrafted furniture. With an uninhibited belief in Australian craftsmanship and a desire to connect with his customers, his first bricks and mortar store is opened.



The tides begin to change in the furniture industry and Chris recognises an opportunity to begin working with one of his great loves – Australian hardwoods. With this, comes the opportunity to make more and more custom pieces which he loves.



Chris’s partner Beth begins helping with the direction of the retail showroom. With her innate eye for design and business acumen, they find they are undeniably a great team. On a trip through Cambodia they decide that Beth will join the business full time. It just seems to fall into place.



The bricks and mortar store is moved to Camberwell and it is time to shake things up. Pine is still the most common furniture timber, but Chris & Beth decide to fill the showroom exclusively with furniture crafted from Australian hardwoods – Redgum, Jarrah, Messmate, Tasmanian Blackwood and Tasmanian oak. It is quite a unique store and people love it!



As the era of clear timbers winds down, people whole heartedly embrace the natural features and colour variations in timber. Chris and Beth begin dabbling in recycled timbers and the first range of recycled timber furniture is introduced to the showroom.

“The patina of recycled timbers got people excited – you could see their spirits elevate and they wanted to touch the timber more. It was incredibly engaging. People completely understood the beauty of it.” – Beth Watts.



Chris and Beth begin creating a network of recycled timber suppliers. As new designs flow, their fascination with recycled timbers grows. Where possible, Chris logs where the timbers have come from and with great verve relays the journey into the handcrafted piece that stands before him.



Beth becomes enchanted in the timber from decommissioned wine barrels and envisions an idea to straighten the staves and craft them into bespoke pieces of furniture. She formulates a plan, knowing that if it could be done Chris would have the skills to do it. And so, the pursuit begins to understand the unique form and grain of the barrel staves and the impact the maturation of red and white wine has had on the timber.

Chris tags this as a most challenging pursuit and after five months perfects the processes. After a celebratory glass of red together – The Vino Furniture Company, is born.



Not content with only straightening the barrel staves, Chris & Beth begin working on bending the staves into different forms. They craft their first pieces of furniture from decommissioned wine barrels from Yering Station in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley. As craftsmen, they carefully conserve the characters of the oak barrels and they are truly elated with what they have created!

There are celebrations all round as the year closes, when Chris & Beth find out they are having their first baby. What a year!



Connecting with some of Australia’s finest wineries, Chris & Beth are overwhelmed by the response and support they receive. Great memories are made as they travel to Wynns Coonawarra, Brokenwood, Yabby Lake, d’Arenberg and Seppeltsfield to break down decommissioned wine barrels from each of the wineries most iconic wines.

Five wine regions in two months and Chris and Beth have sampled amazing wine, indulged in great meals, toured unforgettable cellars and shared the company of incredibly passionate winemakers. Back in their Melbourne Workshop they now have all the Inspiration they need for the designing and craftsmanship begin.



Chris & Beth set out to find a larger showroom to house their collections and set up in an old warehouse space in Fitzroy, Melbourne. They update their trading name to ENGRAIN and after three years in the making, The Vino Furniture Company is launched.

It has been a truly remarkable journey and Chris & Beth invite you to take a peek at their project as the journey continues.