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Howard Duncan
16 January 2018 | Howard Duncan

Winemaker in the House - Tim Smith Wines

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Adelaide in the early ‘80’s and inspired by the Young brothers of ACDC fame, Tim Smith dreamed of forming his own band and making it big.  Figuring there was room for more than just Phil Collins in the world of drummers leading rock bands, the plan was to call his band “The Tim Smiths”…that was until that bloke Morrissey and his mates from Manchester cut his lunch and launched ‘The Smiths’ onto the world stage. Fearing a phone call from a fancy lawyer, or a knock on the door from a couple of big fellas, plans for rock and roll stardom, a personalised 747 and a world tour were regretfully shelved. But a single encounter with the seductive, heady perfume and rich fruity sweetness of a bottle of early 80s Yarra Yering Dry Red #2 was enough to push Tim down a new path. His wine journey had begun, and he knew somewhere along that road he had to make his own wine.

Regardless of which path you follow in life, it’s inevitably ‘a long way to the top’. (I promise that will be the sole rock’n’roll pun). For several years and for countless hours, Tim’s wine dream was contained to the glamourous world of the cellar hand. Lugging hoses, heaving barrels, wash downs, pump-overs - whatever tasks the senior cellar hand and winemakers could dish out. But the many years of ‘hard labour’ as a grateful employee served only to stiffen his resolve, and over a glass of Condrieu enjoyed on the doorstep of the famous Hermitage Hill Chapel in September 2001, Tim Smith Wines was born. Proof that Viognier can inspire!

The Tim Smith Wines one man band kicked off in 2002, and 15 years later remains a one-man band starring the same one man. (Give the winery a call - the only answer you’ll ever get is ‘Hi, this is Tim Smith from Tim Smith Wines.) Each year, a little more wine is made, and then a little more is sold to fund making a little more the following vintage. But never so much that one hard working bloke can’t continue to point to every single of bottle of wine that has ever appeared with his name on it and say with enormous and justifiable pride – ‘I made that!’

Tim refers to his chosen home as ‘God's Own Barossa’. "I am fortunate to be in a business that, despite its lows and because of its highs, has allowed me to forge not just a career, but provide a lifestyle unsurpassed anywhere else - although Bandol in southern France would give it a run for its money if Port Power could arrange to play a few home games nearby. ‘Passionate’ is a hackneyed word, but this is what I admire about this region and its people. The cumulative passion of seven generations of Barossans for their patch of dirt and what they grow allows me as a relative newcomer to make great wine from some of the planet’s most remarkable vineyards. And alongside my life as a winemaker, I get to spend hours riding my vintage Triumph motorcycle through the Eden Valley high country, explore the Barossa’s bakeries for the best freshly baked breads anywhere, and (if you know the right farmers), feast on sublime local lamb and pork.  In addition to all this, I still get to be the drummer in a band! Why would I want to live and make wine anywhere else? (Especially when Port Power’s home games are played nearby.)”

We admire Tim’s take on wine and life. His approach to winemaking is grounded in respect for the gifts the Barossa landscape and the passion of its grape growing families gives him. He works bloody hard as you’d expect for a one-man band, and he is utterly consumed by everything there is to love about Barossa. I reckon he bleeds Shiraz and cries Viognier (as opposed to me…Viognier makes me cry). We’re very happy to have Tim Smith from Tim Smith Wines as our Winemaker in the House this Saturday and Sunday between 12 and 4pm with a fantastic selection of his current release Barossa wines.




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