There is a lot going on down here. So much so that I haven’t been able to sit down and write because everything keeps evolving too quickly. It’s an exciting time to be in South Australia. The company I’m working with, currently called R Winery, is growing at a break-neck speed. They’re tripling their production this year, entering into new markets, launching new brands, moving into a larger winery, and collaborating with new winemakers. South Australia is a small wine making community when it comes right down to it, and there is an almost Peyton Place like atmosphere at times: wife swapping in McLaren Vale, adultery in the Barossa, and, of course, irresponsible watering habits uber alles. There’s a reason, after all, that South Australia has the highest murder rate in the world.
R Winery, however, is in the fortunate position to be working with some of the best talent in South Australia, mainly due to its direct relationship with the wildly successful Grateful Palate (GP), importer of fine Aussie wines to the US, and their roster of outstanding viticulturists, winemakers, and vineyards. I spent the morning with R’s viticulturist Trevor K. in McLaren Vale.
We drove to one of the Shirvington vineyards, famous for shiraz and cabernet, as well as a refuge for eagles, kangaroos, brown snakes, 700 year old gum trees, and former winemaker/pariah Sparky Marquis, the controversial winemaker whose heavy handed, and in the end, dangerous irrigation techniques caused much divisiveness amongst many of his peers. These beautiful vineyards, according to Mark Shirvington “narrowly escaped devastation”.
Vintage seems to be in good shape in McLaren Vale, assuming you used some water at the right time after winter. The dry grown vines I saw had no fruit whatsoever. Fantastic producers, like Noon Winery, looked barren. It wasn’t until last night that the rains came.
It hadn’t rained since May, and the crickets were going nuts.
After a meeting discussing the successful switch to a more versatile facility in Langhorne Creek and the strategies for approaching the logistics of the vintage, I joined Rachel and Alberto at celebrated winemaker Chris Ringland’s house for some delicious Spanish style lamb and potatoes. The potatoes were perfectly fried in about a liter of extra virgin olive oil from Barossa’s Torzi Matthews. Amazing.