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Sal Johnson
10 October 2016 | The Artisans | Sal Johnson

Winemaker of the Month - Schwarz Wine Co


Winemaker of the Month - Jason Schwarz from Schwarz Wine Co.
The Schwarz family has been farming in the Barossa for the last five generations and have a long connection to the land. Both Jason's Father and Grandfather were state Pruning Champions and despite growing and pruning grapes for generations, Jason is the first in his family to make wine. Jason sources fruit from family owned vineyards around the Bethany sub-region of the Barossa Valley as well as Stonewall, Stockwell, Light Pass, Eden Valley and Vine Vale. The wines are a true expression of place.

I recently caught up for a chat with Jas in the Nitschke Block vineyard (above) and he was telling me about how the family have a long connection to the Bethany region, sure enough just up the road in the Bethany Pioneer Cemetery are the headstones of the first Schwarzs to arrive in the Barossa. Now that’s local.

10 questions with Jason Schwarz.

What are the three most memorable wines you have tasted? - An old mid 80’s Peter Lehmann Stonewall Shiraz, Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz and the wine I drank last night.

What is the oldest vineyard you source fruit from? - The 1881 Schiller vineyard at Hallett’s Valley, planted by Carl August Otto Schiller 130 years ago and still in the Schiller family to this day.

What was your very first job? - Cutting Apricots for drying on the family orchard at Bethany.

What do you love about your job and why? - Creating a unique product from grapes grown by family and friends that you then get to see people enjoy.

What grape variety or style excites you? - Funky Grenache – in particular Old Vine Grenache like the fruit we source from the Thiele Road vineyard in Bethany.

What are your top 5 tips for people visiting the Barossa?

Stay longer – there is plenty to see and do in the Barossa.                                                                                        

Listen to the local’s recommendations – especially when it comes to which wineries to visit.                                                

Drink a bottle of wine at windy point – grab a bottle and head up Rifle Range Rd at Krondorf and watch the sunset.      

Hire a driver – that way everyone gets to enjoy the experience.                                                                                        

Visit the unknown – head off the beaten track and visit the lesser known wineries, who knows you might find a new  favourite.

What was the first wine you drank? - Riesling and lemonade with my dad at the Leo Buring weighbridge when delivering grapes during vintage in the 70’s.

What and when was the first wine you made and what did it teach you? - Four Flags Grenache in 1997 with mates from university and it taught me that it’s hard to make good wine.

What is your favourite part of vintage? - Getting dirty and the beer at 4am is pretty alright too.

How many countries have you made wine in? - Three - Australia, South Africa and Germany.


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