Welcome to the Artisans of Barossa blog where we bring you news and events from Artisans of Barossa, Vino Lokal and the Barossa region.
On December 31 we close the door on our time in Vine Vale, and just days later open the doors to Vino Lokal, our new wine room and bar in central Tanunda. In April 2019 we begin construction on the new home of Artisans of Barossa which will be located at Kroemer’s Crossing at the top end of Tanunda. That will open in early 2020, and Vino Lokal and Artisans of Barossa will then operate in tandem offering two fantastic, but very different ways of enjoying Barossa wine and food.
The seven years we’ve called Vine Vale home have been quite a ride. What started as a simple idea for a group of small Barossa winemakers to share a cellar door mushroomed into something much, much more. The team at Harvest Kitchen have played a pivotal role in that story, and we wish them well as they stay on in a new partnership with Calabria Family Wines who take up residence from January 1. Make sure you head up the hill and say hi to Bill, Michael and Andrew Calabria. This a great family and we welcome them warmly to the Barossa wine and food community.
The first set of new doors to open for Artisans will be at 64 Murray Street Tanunda, in a building once known as Roger’s Shoe Store and then for a time as Nosh. Construction and fit out will be completed in the next six weeks, and we’ll tear down the brown paper to reveal ‘Vino Lokal Barossa Wine Room & Bar’.
Vino Lokal will be a melting pot of ideas, opportunities and possibilities. A distillation of our collective experiences, of much time spent in some great (and occasionally not so great) wine bars and wine places around the world. Time spent thinking how, and wishing that, we could bring all of the good bits together in a place we called our own, right here in our Barossa backyard. A place where you can taste and drink and buy across the spectrum of Barossa winemaking, with wines from a few overseas friends thrown in to the mix as well. Somewhere to snack and graze from a compact wine bar style menu of tasty food, with its soul and its foundations in the lands of the farmers and the hands and minds of the artisans food-makers of our fair valley. A place to meet up with friends, and a place to take guests to and show them what Barossa does best. Even a place for a quiet moment of solitude and a sneaky glass of Eden Valley Riesling before you head home to face reality.
We hope Vino Lokal will be all of that.
The doors at Vino Lokal will be open 11am to 8pm Monday to Thursday, and 11am to 10pm on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is an 11am to 6pm affair. During the day we'll offer a completely re-vamped cellar door style tasting program featuring our Artisans of Barossa wineries in the front room. Think of sitting on luxurious, art deco inspired, velvet bar stools along a white marble topped bar, or sinking deeply into tub chairs. Think of pondering, and then creating tasting flights that can lead you astray, in a Barossa wine kind of astray. In the back room, drop in for a glass of wine and a light bite to eat anytime. Take a seat at the window, or somewhere along the 20 seater communal table. Come 5pm, the front room converts from wine room to wine bar, and we'll offer over 50 great Barossa wines by the glass and plenty more by the bottle. Yes, we aim to proudly overwhelm you with choice.
Alongside everything we do in wine, throughout the day and into the night we’ll have delicious bites on offer prepared by Ryan Edwards. We welcome the former Executive Chef at the one hatted Appellation at The Louise as our ‘food artisan’ and trust he is slowly coming to terms with the fact he will soon have two places to look after!
We’re on track for a January 4 2019 opening. The construction team from BGI have worked nothing short of miracles - Michael Hannay, you need to be cloned! Thanks also to Andrew from Homburg, and our landlords Robert and Pam for being so responsive and positive to our idea for Vino Lokal. Thanks too to Jenny & Steve from Decor Made Easy who have been a tour de force - just wait until you see the interior design they’ve come up with.
As you can see, there’s a strong ‘lokal’ flavour to this endeavour, from the wines to the food and to the people who helped bring it all together at breakneck speed. We can’t wait to welcome you through the doors at Vino Lokal when we open on January 4, and for it to become a place full of happy and contented lokals.
Howard and the team at Artisans of Barossa
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Congratulations to John Duval Wines whose 'Plexus' Shiraz Grenache Mourvèdre has been awarded in the recently released Langton's Classification VII.
Plexus SGM is one of only 12 Barossan wines selected in the Excellent category which is for "Australian wines of consistent merit. Steadfast, popular and expressive".
The Barossa Grape & Wine Assocation (Barossa Wine) says "The Langton’s Classification, now in its 30th year, bases eligibility on how well a wine performs on the open auction market; the volume of demand it attracts and the prices it realises. Revised every five years, Langton’s comments “ultimately, the reputation of a wine is based on its auction pedigree, the record it builds up, over time.” The success of Barossa’s wines in the Classification underlines the exceptional quality of both the region’s viticulture and winemaking."
Barossa continues its reign as the highest represented region" representing 28% of the Australia-wide list.
Purchase your John Duval Wines at our online wine store .
Langton's image courtesy Barossa Grape & Wine Association
We've been working on some new projects here at Artisans and we're very excited about our new collaborative winemaking project - Artisans Of Barossa Small Batch Wines.
The Artisans collaboration of John Duval Wines, Spinifex Wines, Schwarz Wine Company, Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, Massena and Sons of Eden gives unparalleled access to the cellars of some of the Barossa best small winemakers. Our winemakers are able to hand select individual barrels and small parcels of wine to craft these Small Batch wines.
The first wines in the Small Batch series are made by Sons of Eden Winemaker Corey Ryan. Winemaker and self-confessed wine tragic, Corey lives and breathes wine, having worked in Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy and Spain. Whilst equally comfortable crafting cool climate Pinot Noir as he is signature Barossa styles, it was Corey’s time as Winemaker for iconic Eden Valley producer Henschke that established an appetite for Barossa wines that is now his passion as co-proprietor of Sons of Eden.
The Small Batch wine series includes a Rosé, Graciano, Grenache and Shiraz. We have a limited amount of Small Batch reds available in a six pack (see below for details).
2016 Artisans of Barossa Small Batch Grenache.
The approach in the winery is very much around preserving and promoting varietal character, and ensuring the wine is an honest showing of its Vine Vale locale. There’s lifted fresh maraschino cherry with spicy cinnamon and clove aromas and the palate is loaded with delicious, juicy, fleshy & succulent Grenache flavours with terrific depth and richness
2016 Artisans of Barossa Small Batch Graciano.
Growers Simon and Kendy Cowham from Light Pass are producing outstanding quality fruit. This is an exciting wine for us given the rarity of this variety in Barossa. The wine features blueberry and lifted sour-cherry aromas, a richly concentrated and rounded mid-palate framed with focused acidity and freshness. We recommend enjoying this as a young wine when the fruits are bright and fresh.
2017 Artisans of Barossa Small Batch Shiraz.
A delicious, rich, flavoursome and beautifully balanced wine.
The pack features two bottles each of the Small Batch reds and can be delivered to you for $160.00 ($150 + discounted shipping of $10) saving you over $75. Inside the case, we'll include Corey's tasting notes on each of the wines
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Secure your Small Batch special offer at our online wine store.
We welcome some new releases from Schwarz Wine Company to the Tasting Room (and our online wine store) this week.
The Chenin Blanc is bright, fresh and laden with tropical aromatics. It is a wine to enjoy now, not deliberate over. Chill, pour and relax!
The Rosé is equally delicious and would be perfect to enjoy with an antipasto platter (or on its own 😉 ).
Both wines are now available for tasting at our Tasting Room (11am-6pm every day) or purchase through our online wine store.
Jaysen Collins from Massena is in the Artisans house this weekend. (And because winemakers are real people too, he’ll be a little late on Saturday as he heads back from Adelaide after watching the kids play soccer.) Catch him from 2-4pm Saturday, and 12-4pm Sunday.
A Massena tasting can be best described as an adventure – the wines once described by Lisa Perotti-Brown of The Wine Advocate as “…exciting departures from the status quo.” This weekend’s tasting will definitely have you venturing off the high street – the Eleventh Hour Barossa Shiraz surrounded by a bedazzling collection of diverse varietals including Saperavi and Primitivo, and red and white blends that reflect the eternal willingness of the Massena winemakers to take a path less travelled in the pursuit of making wines that are a sheer pleasure to drink. If you happen to make the journey to Artisans this weekend, you’ll also be treated to a sneak pre-release tasting of the first edition 2017 Massena ‘Stonegarden’ Grenache. Jaysen has smuggled a few bottles out of the winery ahead of the official release (which is on June 6 at Rockpool in Sydney) making it well worth a drive to the top end of Magnolia Road over the weekend.
Massena celebrates 20 years of winemaking next year, and I sense it’s a coming of age moment for founders Jaysen Collins and Dan Standish, along with their new collaborator - vigneron Glen Monaghan. Jaysen and Dan were young blokes in their early 20’s when they thought it might be ‘a bit of fun’ to partner up to make ‘a bit of wine’ – an opportunity to express some artistic licence free of the restraints of their respective day jobs at Turkey Flat and Torbreck. With the benefit of hindsight, those founding ideals of ‘a bit of fun’ and ‘a bit of wine’ now appear to be equally gross understatements. Plenty of wine has been made (albeit in small batches), and plenty of fun has been had… some would suggest fun on a scale previously unimaginable in the business of making wine.
2017 was a watershed year for Jaysen and Dan’s, bought about by the decision to head out in search of a peerless Barossa vineyard to produce a new range of top tier wines for Massena. They say fortune favours the brave, and an introduction to Glen Monaghan who’d only recently purchased the Stonegarden Vineyard in Eden Valley saw a partnership of two winemakers grow to include a vigneron. The platform for Massena ‘Stonegarden’ wines was in place and the first wines are now released. The 2017 Riesling was an impressive debut, as was the 2017 Fruit Salad Block White – a brilliant example of the power of collaboration between committed grape grower and innovative winemaker. Few would think to hang onto a vineyard block containing 20 something grape varieties – and I suspect only Massena would think to have a go at making a wine by blending the lot! The 2017 Stonegarden Grenache is next on the release schedule, followed by a 2017 GSM blend, then a second vintage of Riesling and a Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon. And there is talk of a Mataro and a Malbec made in tiny quantities from fruit picked from individual vines found here and there amongst plantings of other varieties at Stonegarden. All exciting examples of extreme and rare Barossa provenance.
For 20 years, Massena has lived and celebrated the Artisan ideal of individual expression in Barossa winemaking. And whilst the Stonegarden wines might represent (dare I say it) a ‘maturing’ for Massena, the determination to keep making sure it’s fun has not diminished. To prove the point, Jaysen tells me they’re testing a new Shiraz-Tannat blend from the 2018 vintage – apparently it’s going to be called “Shitnat”.
If there were such a thing as 'Barossa Shiraz divining rods' then Pete Schell, proprietor at Spinifex Wines must own a set! This winemaker's ability to seek and find the patchwork of small vineyards that supplies an incredible array of superb expressions of this wine region's hero grape variety is certainly impressive. If not uncanny. Or possibly god-like if you really love your Barossa Shiraz. Either way, a tasting with Pete of his myriad of Spinifex Shiraz (at least 7 different ones at last count) is what we're offering this Saturday and Sunday from 12-4 up at Artisans. This is your chance to meet, talk and taste with a true Shiraz Sifu. (Or 'master' if your Cantonese is a bit rusty.)
Pete is clearly comfortable with the idea of embracing diversity. In contrast with some of the bigger wineries, his wines are driven by the landscape and his preference for expression of varietal and site typicity rather than the winemaker's influence. This is a winemaker who both understands the land, and respects the importance of building relationships with good growers. He rejoices in the differences. and that shows in the wines on tasting this weekend.
The 2015 La Maline is a fine and elegant example of Shiraz produced from mostly Eden Valley Vineyards. Just 60 dozen of the 2012 Old Vine Shiraz were produced, from a 110 year old vineyard at Nuriootpa. A great vintage and as good an example of Barossa Shiraz you're ever likely to taste. The 2016 Indegine introduces a good dollop of Mataro blended with old vine Shiraz from the Eden Valley and Moppa - it's a bold, tannic and structural expression of Shiraz, in contrast to the elegant La Maline...the sort of Shiraz you'd drink listening to ACDC at 80 decibels. The 2015 Bete Noir is fine - it's lean, it's structured, it's athletic - I think it to be cast in the image of Michaelangelo's David. And then there is the youngster produced from 20 year old vines grown at some of the higher points around Barossa - the 2017 Syrah is loaded with soft, plush and bright primary fruit. Barely a hint of oak, and so pure! Finally 2015 Miette - made with a singular mission in mind - to bring drinking pleasure to the table.
One winemaker, six diverse expressions of the art of making Barossa Shiraz on tasting (with the winemaker) this weekend at Artisans. Don't miss out!
Cheers from Howard at Artisans.
Browse/buy the Spinifex range here.
The Hobbs' were always guaranteed to arrive in the Artisans house a little later than the others. Their vineyard in the high country of Eden Valley is generally the last to be picked of all of our Artisans' vineyards, and it wasn't until the last week of April that the call was made to bring the last of the fruit into the winery. With the hard slog of vintage now behind them, Greg and Allison join us this weekend to present the latest releases of their imperious and delicious reds alongside a superb Viognier.
Anyone that knows Greg Hobbs can appreciate he's a man not to mince his words. Nor is he a chap prone to hyperbole. In short, Greg calls it as he sees it. When I asked him early this morning for his thoughts on the 2018 vintage, he was emphatic. "At this stage, it's as good as Allison and I have seen since we bought the vineyard back in 1995. Plenty of power, but balanced with refined, silky and beautifully elegant tannins. We had a near perfect run up here at the home block - the early February heat didn't affect the fruit, and from that point all the way through to the last pick, the conditions were nothing but absolutely perfect. We couldn't be any happier with the quality that we've been tasting in the vineyard."
On tasting this weekend will be the 2015 vintage Gregor Shiraz, alongside a first showing of the 2015 Tango Shiraz Viognier and the excellent 2017 Viognier. Apart from the opportunity to have a good yack with Greg and Allison and taste some exceptional wines, this weekend also provides you the chance to get to understand a little more about what makes the high Eden such a very special part of our Barossa wine world. We've also got a few tables available at Harvest Kitchen....a Hobbs red with the Hutton Vale lamb, or Viognier with the field mushrooms (or both) would turn your good weekend into a great weekend. Call ahead on 8563 3935 to make a booking.
Following a twelve-month search, Artisans of Barossa announced today plans to construct a new purpose-built home at a 56-acre vineyard property on the corner of Vine Vale and Menge Roads near Tanunda. The Barossa Council Assessment Panel approved the development application at their meeting last night, and construction will commence in April. Completion is expected by the end of this year and the doors to the new home will open in January 2019. In the interim, Artisans of Barossa will continue to operate from its Magnolia Road base at Vine Vale.
“Our aim is to make the new Artisans the keystone destination for any Barossa wine and food adventure – a place that enables people to make sense of Barossa in its entirety by bringing together every possible expression of Barossa wine along with stories, food and generous hospitality.” said Howard Duncan, Chief Operating Officer for Artisans.
“The best wine and food tourism destinations in the world share a number of key attributes, chief among them being a highly authentic expression of the produce of the region within which they operate. Throughout the process of designing our new home, we’ve challenged ourselves to create innovative and distinctive experiences around Barossa wine and food that encourage our guests to be more adventuresome and to discover more about this region’s brilliant produce - it’s culinary heritage, where it all comes from, how it’s made and the stories of the people who’ve made it. The new Artisans builds on our established position as the home of some of Barossa’s best small winemakers and, inspired by success stories from around the world, aims to set a new benchmark. Barossa is positioning itself as Australia’s global wine and food region, and Adelaide is known around the world as Australia’s ‘Wine Capital’. The new Artisans will play a leading role in supporting these twin endeavours that aim to draw increasing numbers of interstate and international culinary tourists to our State and region.”
With a new home comes the opportunity to set a new course, and from 2019 Artisans will deliver an integrated wine and food program through a single Artisans team of great Barossa wine and food people. Harvest Kitchen has chosen to remain at the current Magnolia Road location in a new partnership with Calabria Family Wines who purchased the site in 2016.
“Since early 2015, Artisans of Barossa has worked in tandem with Harvest Kitchen to become one of the most popular cellar door and restaurant destinations in Barossa. Peter, Tracy and Alex and their team have played a pivotal role, and we wish them continuing success working with Calabria Family Wines who have exciting plans for what we’ll always fondly remember as our first home.”
The new Artisans has been designed by local architects JBG, and Ahrens Construction and Engineering has been engaged as the builder.
“Through the construction stage and initial operations, the new Artisans home is expected to create more than 30 new full time equivalent jobs in addition to the team we currently employ. We’re all about offering our guests the best experience of Barossa they’ll find anywhere on the planet, and we’ll be bringing together a team that embraces our love of all things Barossa to deliver that. Recruitment should commence later this year.”
Artisans of Barossa is a group of like-minded producers with a common goal to protect and promote small batch, sub-regional winemaking. Our collaboration represents a shared way of thinking about winemaking and wine enjoying. The Artisans are Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, Schwarz Wine Company, Massena, John Duval Wines, Sons of Eden and Spinifex.
We look forward to welcoming you to the new Artisans of Barossa.
This weekend at Artisans, the Massena crew are our ‘Winemakers in the House' presenting their bold, adventuresome and exciting wines from 12-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Come up to Artisans and have a chat with winemaker Jaysen ‘JC’ Collins and vigneron Glen ‘Glen’ Monaghan, both great guys, and both fully subscribed to the Artisans ideals of respect for provenance and guardianship of the art of small batch winemaking.
Well let’s call that ‘Plan A’…because the vagaries of weather and the demands of vintage have a funny way of turning plans to dust in an instant at this time of the year... so it may be that our winemaker in the house program will be more like a ‘winemaker in the house….winemaker not in the house…winemaker in the vineyard….winemaker back in the house….winemaker dashing off to the winery…etc etc’ affair.
Vintage in Barossa has kicked off big time this week with everything ripening up nicely - the fruit commencing its annual pilgrimage from vineyard to winery to transform from grape juice to delicious wine for our ever grateful satisfaction and refreshment. And because our Artisans are the genuine deal, proper winemaking folk whose hands (and most definitely on the occasion feet) produce the wine that finds its way into your glass - you can interpret ‘picked by Glen Monaghan and made by Jaysen Collins’ literally - as this is exactly what’s happening this weekend at Massena.
I put a quick call into ‘JC’ earlier today to get a heads up on his plans for the weekend… and he assures me the Massena team are good for their word and will be ‘in the house’ no matter what vintage throws at them. Here’s a quick run-down of what’s going on in Massena world right now, straight from the source:
- Early picked Durif from Krondorf Road at Kabminye is bubbling along nicely in the tank.
- A small parcel of cracking Marsanne from Stonewell landed at the winery this morning.
- Viognier from Greenock is probably coming into the winery tomorrow.
- They should pick their first Shiraz (from Basedow Road, east of Tanunda) over the weekend.
- Glen is working his way, snips in hand, through the Fruit Salad block on the Stonegarden Vineyard in Eden Valley - 20 different grape varieties all ‘tossed’ together to make one of the region’s most intriguing white blends.
- The basket press has ‘shit itself’ (a ‘JC’ technical term for temporarily out of service) and they expect to be jogging plenty of barefoot laps around the tanks over the weekend to press finished red ferments.
- Most importantly, someone remembered to fill the winery beer fridge with an eclectic collection of barley based beverages packaged in convenient 375ml can sized portions.
So this weekend is your chance to meet and talk to a real live winemaker or vigneron whilst they’re literally knee deep in the vintage action. I’ve asked JC to bring in a bit of fermenting juice, and Glen some freshly picked fruit, so if you or friends or guests head into Artisans this weekend they can get a taste and a feel for the fruits of the Barossa harvest. And if that’s not enough, there’s a first taste of the Massena ‘Caviste’ Blend - a blend of Shiraz, Primitivo, Petite Syrah (Durif) and Tannat.
Cheers, we hope to welcome you this weekend at Artisans.
We welcome Corey Ryan and Simon Cowham from Sons of Eden as our ‘Winemakers in the House’ this weekend from 12-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Head up to Artisans either day to have a chat and taste through a range of wines that have made ‘the sons’ one of the most exciting names in town.
‘Winemakers’ in the house is actually a bit of a misnomer for the ‘Sons’. Corey Ryan comfortably fits the bill, but whilst Simon Cowham might not be ripping off the shorts, socks and shoes to squash Barossa grapes each vintage, the grapegrower/ viticulturist ‘son’ has plenty to do with ensuring what you discover in your glass of Sons of Eden wine is an outstanding expression of Barossa wine. The combination of winemaker and grapegrower working in unison defines Sons of Eden and makes them one of Australia’s great winemaker/grapegrower double acts - the quality of their wines living testament to the adage that one plus one can equal three.
Speaking to a grapegrower in February is like trying to speak to someone running late for a plane, and Simon politely asked me to keep the Q & A session brief. So I fired three questions at him over a sausage roll at Nosh last week (a very good sausage roll, worth a go)
Why become a grapegrower, when winemakers get all the fame & glory?
“I hear what you’re saying – I don’t think anyone at Artisans has ever asked to meet the grapegrower! But I’ve always been a bit of a nature boy and I just love getting around in the great outdoors, kicking the dirt and marvelling at what mother nature is capable of providing us. And whilst I may not be the bloke making the wine, I’m the one charged with delivering the fruit the winemaker wants, so I’m always conscious that what I do out in the vineyards directly impacts on the winery and what ends up in the glass. I need to have a foot in both camps – respecting the landscape and what it’s able to produce, whilst also considering what Corey needs. To that end, the onus is on me to have a very good grasp of what’s happening in the vineyards we source fruit from, and understanding how I can respond to ensure we get the fruit quality and flavour we want. I’ve also got a decent grasp of winemaking and have spent plenty of time exploring the dark arts of sales and marketing – so when I’m standing in a vineyard, I get a sense of the connective line between the dirt and the glass.”
Every year is different. How do you as a grape grower respond to changes in growing conditions to ensure you keep delivering top quality fruit to the winery?
“That’s true…every year is very different and presents a whole new challenge. You just have to adopt the mindset that you need to start each year with a fresh perspective, but be comforted that the knowledge of a vineyard landscape you’ve built up over many years will see you right. I started back in 1990, so I’m now well into my third decade. Over that time I’ve learned plenty about how different varieties, sub regions and individual vineyards respond to the changing conditions of each year. They teach you a fair bit at University, but it’s what you learn through experience that counts in this game. What I’ve seen and learned, and no doubt the mistakes I’ve made help me to respond to whatever the current season throws at me. But put me in the Hunter, or Margaret River and I’d be like a duck out of water because I’d have no feel for the landscape and environment.”
Now for the BIG question….how’s this year looking?
“Everyone’s always asking me how the vintage is shaping up, and it’s bloody tough to throw a blanket over the entire place and give it a single rating. Every variety performs differently each vintage, sub regions and individual vineyards respond in various ways (some good, some not so good) to the vagaries of the seasons and years. Barossa is an amazing place to grow grapes and make wine because there is no much diversify inherent in the landscape, but that also makes it almost impossible to get everything perfect every year. I’m a fan of rating vintages in terms of the number of highlights, whereby the great vintages have the highest number of individual highlights, and the average ones the lowest. And in a place like Barossa, no matter what the season brings, you’ll always find a good amount of highlights. For 2018, I’m excited about the quality I’m seeing in our vineyards, and how the fruit will land in the winery over the next few months. The cooler sections of the Barossa Valley and warmer sections of the Eden Valley look especially good. Fingers crossed”
And with that, I’m left with a plate of crumbs (did I tell you it was a good sausage roll at Nosh?) and Simon is off out the door. Do yourself a favour and head into Artisans this weekend…and make sure you ask to speak to the grapegrower!