Small Wineries

Boutique players blend passion with dedication to make wines of eloquence

Grapegrower & Winemaker May 2013 

Three quarters of the Australian and New Zealand wine industry is made up of producers who crush less than 250 tonnes annually. Following on from our review of the top Australian and New Zealand wine companies in our April issue, this month we put the spotlight on the smaller players – the boutique producers who make up the majority of our industry. We ask five people who represent different facets of the industry – from viticulture all the way to the trade – who their favourite five boutique wineries are and what makes them unique. In this special feature, journalist Kellie Arbuckle also speaks with five of those wineries and reveals their personal journeys into the wine world.

My Favourite Five:

If you are looking for a theme that connects my top five, it would be: the winemakers’ love for the land, how the vineyard is the most important aspect of their wines, and how courage and creativity can be used to craft something entirely new.

Bellwether, Coonawarra and Tasmania: Sue Bell’s winemaking philosophy is simple: make great wines that reflect the site and display purity, texture and complexity – oh, and are great to drink now or after a few years.

Timo Mayer, Yarra Valley: The website probably attests to how small this ‘boutique winery’ actually is – one page only! Timo has excited locals and international guests with his cloudy wines that “bring back the funk!”

Ruggabellus, Barossa Valley: Ruggabellus represents the new Barossa. Each wine is inspired by the landscape and aims to reflect the uniquely Australian character of the wine. Rugged beauty, indeed.

Wines by KT, Clare Valley: Working with local growers and recognising their importance by naming the wines after them, KT, or Kerri Thompson, has been making wines in the Clare Valley since the late 1990s. Bringing vineyard detail to life, Riesling is the hero with three single-vineyard labels.

Freeman Vineyards, Hilltops: I was introduced to Freeman wines by Sydney sommelier, Stuart Knox, at Fix St James. Wow! I had never tasted a wine like theirs, not from Australia, anyway. With plantings of Rondinella and Corvina in the Hilltops of New South Wales, the Amarone-inspired Freeman ‘Secco’ has been crafted. I have nothing but admiration for Dr. Freeman and his team who have succeeded in doing what Australia does best – borrow from the old and create something new!

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