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Welcome to the Artisans of Barossa blog where we bring you news and events from Artisans of Barossa, Vino Lokal and the Barossa region.



Howard Duncan
31 August 2017 | Howard Duncan

This week at Artisans 31 August

This week at Artisans...

Greg and Allison Hobbs are here and we're continuing a chat started in the kitchen of their home in Flaxman's Valley a few months back. I confess...I can't get enough of hearing their Barossa wine story, because it's just so bloody good. Whilst many of us have dreamed of a vine change, Alli and Greg have made theirs reality...and with very good form to boot. And if their story was to become a book, the synopsis of the story so far would probably read something like this;

Chapter 1
Non wine drinking copper meets wine drinking nurse. They fall in love (aaaw), the non wine drinking copper becomes a wine drinking copper and together with his wine drinking nurse girlfriend they begin their wine journey with weekends spent exploring South Australia's wine regions tasting, buying and accumulating an impressive cellar. (Good start!)

Chapter 2
Moving married with 3 kids, life in the big smoke begins to lose its allure for our wine drinking dynamic duo. A desire to find a new life in the country combined with the urge to take a really big step in their wine journey leads them to buy a home in the Eden Valley which pure chance (wink-wink) surrounded by a century old, but 'seen better days', vineyard.

Chapter 3
Time to meet the neighbour...who quite fortuitously happens to be Chris Ringland who knows a thing or two about old Barossa vineyards and making wine. Exchanges of information about grape growing and wine making, swaps of vineyard equipment and the occasional passing over the figurative back fence of the odd decent scone (produced by Alli, with the assistance of the Angaston baker) are the rights of passage that build neighborhoods in these parts. Fi and Col Shepherd of  Flaxman Wines will move into the 'hood soon after.

Chapter 4
Business Plan 'A' is formulated - fix vineyard, grow grapes, sell grapes. This is replaced at some stage later by Business Plan 'B' - realise grapes are too bloody good to sell, so grow grapes, make wine! Business Plan 'C' is a pragmatic response to Business Plan B - 'make wine, drink some wine, and sell wine after allowance for 'ullages' caused by now adult kids coming up to see mum and dad on the weekends. There's also an exciting forray into Artisans of Barossa with 6 good winemaking mates.

And as you turn to the last page of the book it would read 'To be continued...' - because this is a book that is still being written.

There are two things that are plainly obvious when you talk to Greg and Alli about their vineyard and their wine. First and foremost, they love what they do...and believe me, their's is not the romantacised version of winery ownership. These people work exceptionally hard, but they do so because everything they do on behalf of their wine brings them enormous joy. You can see that in their smiles and in their eyes. They also love being an Artisan and the camaraderie they feel through the group of 6 winemakers who share a common approach to wine...they do it because they love it, and for no other purpose. The other thing you sense from the Hobbs' is the pride they take in their wine. An outsider observing how they work in their vineyard, how they make their wine, how they package their wine would jump quickly to the conclusion that "there has to be a easier way". But that's not how Greg and Alli see their world. They never look for an easier way to do anything, they only look for a better way. And in the quest to make these wines that they can be justifiably proud of, that 'better way' inevitably implies 'the hard way'!

The connection the Hobbs’ have to their vineyard is like few others. They look over it every morning when they wake up, they pass through it every morning taking the dog for a walk, they work in their vineyard every day…and each evening they enjoy a glass of wine from the fruit they’ve grown from the vines that surround them. Beautiful place, beautiful people…magnificent, richly flavoured wines that reflect the hard work and love that goes into making them.

The 'Hobbsies' have just released the first vintage of their Tin Lids Shiraz Cabernet and its available for tasting at Artisans now. An Eden Valley expression of the classic Australian red blend, bringing together Shiraz from their vineyard at Flaxman Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon from Phil and Sarah Lehmann’s Boongarie Estate on the Keyneton to Eden Valley Road. It's big on flavour and oozing class. We've also just released the first vintage of the Tin Lids Aria Secca Shiraz. ‘Aria Secca’ is an Italian term, meaning ‘air dried', and refers to the 7-10 days the harvested grapes lie on drying racks at the winery to further concentrate the flavours of Shiraz from a 100+ year old vineyard.

As good a reason as any to stick your head in the door this week at Artisans.

Cheers, Howard

PS: Apologies to Kirsty Mackirdy for spelling her name 3 different ways last week


Time Posted: 31/08/2017 at 4:52 PM
Howard Duncan
24 August 2017 | Howard Duncan

This week at Artisans - 24 August 2017

I'm talking to Kirsty Mackirdy, an artisan of a different kind - jeweller/ silversmith and a very welcome (and always smiling) face behind tasting bar at Artisans of Barossa.


Unlike kiwi Pete Schell who I talked to the other week, Kirsty is South Australian through and through and can trace her ancestry back to the Clark family who arrived as pioneers back in the 1840's, settling in Hazelwood Park. An early generation of the family would be soon involved in establishing the historic Stonyfell vineyard in 1860. Grapes and wine are deeply embedded in the Mackirdy DNA.

Twenty or so years ago, Kirsty and (now) husband Beau both decided on a vine change. Kirsty from life in Adelaide where she grew up, and Beau from Sydney seeking a quieter place to write.  It was Beau who discovered the old Schoenborn Lutheran Church in the parish of what is now known as Gomersal to the south west of Tanunda. The Church was built in 1855 and served as the hub of the community for many years before the congregation moved to a new site in 1927. The 'new' Church sits alongside the Gomersal Road and is well known by  Barossans for the cryptic messages of faith that appear weekly on the sign board out front. The old church became a Lutheran school, and then a state school before being vacated in 1952. Between that time and 44 years later when Kirsty and Beau purchased their 'renovator's dream', the only residents had been rats - both the four legged and winged variety.  The south side wall had disappeared entirely, as had the floor of what is now their bedroom. And cracks through which you stick your arm through snaked their way across most of the interior walls. But 18 months later, with the modern comforts of hot and cold water and a flushing loo, Beau and Kirsty moved into their new home.  A kitchen would come later!


Kirsty Mackirdy, jeweller/ silversmith - an artisan of a different kind


It's from this point in Kirsty's telling of her Barossa story that the pace much for the quiet country life. There's talk of sons Angus and Alex, of times working the cellar door at Krondorf, then Saltram and Artisans, the occasional switch hit to discuss hockey, of kick starting her jewellery design business, and then something to do with herding sheep in high heels after a long lunch at 1918. And then this during a pause....'oh yeah, I also ran my own catering company for 13 years!'. It's the kind of life story that makes you tired just listening to.

Kirsty's initial connection with Artisans came about through her work as a jeweller, holding 3 pop up exhibitions before constant demand from our customers required her work to be permanently on show. "People get really excited when they meet one of our winemakers in the building, and it's the same with me when they realise I'm the one making the jewellery. I think people have a real love for things that  are hand made...and 'meeting the maker' establishes a more meaningful link with what we make - whether it's wine or ear-rings."  As we started to finish up talking, I had meant to ask Kirsty to name a few of her favourite wines, but we ended up talking in closing more about what she loves about this place. Kirsty freely admits she begged for a job at Artisans - so enamored was she with the beautiful light filled space and the small family winery feel that runs through the business. "It's a very sociable job, constantly involving human interaction -  a nice contrast to working solo in the studio at home. But most of all, our winemakers make bloody good wines - that's what I really love about Artisans."

I can't disagree with Kirsty 'Mac' on that last point....and yes, we have plenty of bloody good wines on tasting this week at Artisans.

Time Posted: 24/08/2017 at 4:31 PM
Howard Duncan
18 August 2017 | Howard Duncan

This week at Artisans - 17 August 2017

I'm talking to Tim Duval about growing up in the Barossa Valley in a wine family, about life as a lawyer and about working with Dad in the family business - John Duval Wines.

You can't be anything but green with envy when Tim Duval starts talking about his introduction to wine at the Duval dinner table at a time when Dad was chief winemaker at Penfolds. (That's him in the picture above, front right next to Max Schubert.) Whilst he's quick to state Grange was not served every night ("Koonunga Hill was probably my true wine training wheels"), there's no doubt Tim Duval was developing a commanding appreciation and deep understanding of Australia's most famous wine at an age most of us were drinking Tang and Cottee's Cordial with our Wednesday night bangers and mash. But Tim's early memories of wine extend far beyond the regular privilege of enjoying Penfold's best.

"Growing up in the Barossa with dad working as a winemaker, wine was on the table every night of the week. There was a really healthy attitude to wine, it was part of a meal and central to the dinner table conversation. Wine was part of our everyday life and inevitably the network of Barossa mates I developed through my childhood each too had their own close connection to wine through a parent's involvement with a winery or a vineyard. It was only when I moved to Adelaide to study that it became apparent that not all family lives revolved around Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro, vintage, ferments, yields and vineyards.

My first hands on experience with wine came around the age of 17 working in vineyards along the western ridge training young vines to the trellis wire. A full day out in 40 degree heat gave me new found respect for the hard work that is grape growing, and equally the importance of a good piece of also helped fund my early years studying law in Adelaide. All through my uni days, I stayed closely connected to wine working in some of Adelaide's best independent retailers. That experience opened my eyes to a much bigger wine world, and on weekends I'd head home to the Barossa with a few new discoveries to share and talk about with dad. With a year to go in my law degree, I took a break and headed to the Yarra Valley to work under Tom Carson at Yering Station. At that point, I knew working in the wine business was my ultimate destiny."

Tim and I get to the question what it's like working with your dad, and how John Duval, 26 years winemaker at Penfolds, welcomes Tim Duval, 7 years a practicing lawyer, into the family wine business.

"With 32 years age between us, there was never any doubt I'd bring a different perspective on wine to the business. I have enormous respect for what Dad has achieved in wine and in business....not only during his time at Penfolds, but for what he's done to get John Duval Wines to where it is today. I enjoy working with him, which is obviously important in a small business when it just him and I and Sally our Finance Manager in the office!  He's very supportive, and his incredible knowledge of winemaking and relationships with the owners of great Barossa vineyards are the pillars upon which our family business is built.  That won't change...and ultimately it will become dad's eternal legacy to John Duval Wines. Working alongside him in the business now affords me the opportunity to learn as much as I can from him....and I'm fairly sure he respects the value of having an ex lawyer around the place!

Shiraz and our family name's connection with Grange is a big part of our identity wherever we travel in the world - that's undeniable. But with each discovery of a great Barossa vineyard site comes an opportunity to write a new page in the story of John Duval Wines. Watch out for the first vintage releases of a single vineyard Mataro and Cabernet Sauvignon which will be released later this year. Of our current releases, our Annexus Grenache is the wine that excites me most. Barossa Grenache should be celebrated and promoted to the world - it's an incredible resource we have and when you discover the right site with the right clone, you can make wonderful, savoury wines with incredible depth of flavour. The 2015 vintage is almost sold out and 2016 is in bottle ready for release in December...a brilliant vintage for Barossa Valley Grenache."

Whilst John's winemaking career and Tim's childhood have been influenced by their respective experiences with Australia's most famous winery, it's clear this father/ son team is charting a future for their family business based not on the past, but on their faith in the Barossa as one of the world's great wine regions. To them, where their wine comes from and how it's made remains paramount to ensuring the standing of John Duval Wines as one of this region's most respected family winemakers.

It's rare a day goes by that Tim and/ or John is not sighted somewhere around our Artisans home in Vine there's a very good chance you'll bump into them this week at Artisans.

Time Posted: 18/08/2017 at 10:03 AM
Sal Johnson
15 March 2017 | Sal Johnson

Winemaker of the Month - Spinifex Wines


Peter Schell and Magali Gely have had a home in the Barossa Valley for over twenty years and hold a strong commitment to and passion for the Barossa.  They also have a strong French connection, both physically and philosophically.

Magali's family, who up until recently were vignerons with a long lineage in Lunel, near Montpellier, still live in south west France, and over the last ten years Peter has worked six French vintages, in Provence, the Languedoc, Bordeaux and Burgundy. Time spent in the south of France has fuelled their interest in making unique, hand crafted wines with personality, which are generous and honest expressions of the varieties and their provenance.

Grapes are sourced from a group of dedicated growers in both the Barossa and Eden Valleys, taking advantage of the great diversity of the soils and meso-climates of the Barossa to create wines with balance, character, depth of flavour and Barossan generosity.

10 questions – Pete Schell

1. What is the oldest vineyard that you make wine from?

- Grenache from the Stonegarden Vineyard, 1850 something would be the oldest, we have quite a few vineyards planted in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, an amazing resource.

2. What is your favourite part of Vintage?

- being in sync with the progression of fruit maturity in old vineyards is a buzz.

3. What was your very first job?

 - milking cows, digging holes and chasing cattle

4. What do you love about your job and why?

 - grape growing and wine making are an interface between nature and culture, its exciting to be a part of that connection

5. What grape variety or style excites you?

- right now I’m on a Riesling trip – it does change quite a bit?

6. What was the first wine you drank?

 - a full glass of red wine (variety and vintage unknown) when I was 2 ……..I was later found asleep under the dinner table.

7. What is your favourite meal or dish?

 - My wife Magali slow cooks hare fore-quarters in a red wine and vegetable stock, deep, earthy sweet goodness..unbeatable

8. How many vintages have you completed?

32…and starting to feel them.

9. What (and when) was the first wine you made and what did it teach you?

 - 1996 Barossa Valley Sauvignon Blanc – don’t make Barossa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

10. What bought you to the wine industry

 - dumb luck and a strong thirst



10 question – Magali Gely

1. What are the three most memorable wines you have tasted?

- 1978 Haut Brion

- 2010 Domaine Ott Cuvee Marine

- an old bottle of Muscat de Lunel from my Grandfather’s cellar

2. What is your favourite part of vintage?

 - to be honest, the end as it’s when I get the more relaxed version of my husband back.

3. What was your very first job?

- working in dad’s bakery

4. What do you love about your job and why?

 - I love working for ourselves and the flexibility that brings to our lives.

5. What is your role and what does it entail?

- my role is pretty varied, basically if it doesn’t involve winemaking I do it. Sales, packaging, general admin, export documentation and bookwork.

6. What are your top three desert island wines?

- Champagne, Riesling and Rose

7. How many generations have your family been in the wine industry?

My paternal Grandfather came from a long line of vignerons in the south of France however it skipped my father’s generation, he hated vineyard work and decided to join the French navy and trained as a chef which then eventually led to training as a pastry chef. My father was thrilled that I had found my way back to the industry that he felt was in the blood (but I also dislike vineyard work!)

8. What is your favourite meal?

 - Anything my kids cook for me

9. What was the first wine you drank?

 - Asti Spumante

10. What makes the Barossa home for you?

 - Family and friends.

Time Posted: 15/03/2017 at 10:15 AM
Sal Johnson
13 February 2017 | Sal Johnson

Winemaker of the Month - Hobbs of Barossa Ranges


Winemaker of the Month - Hobbs of Barossa Ranges

The Hobbs name is relatively new to the Australian wine landscape. Greg and Allison Hobbs' postage stamp sized vineyard in the upper reaches of the Barossa Ranges is anything but, with Shiraz vines dating back to 1905. The Hobbs family moved to the historic 15 acre vineyard in 1995. In 1998 30 dozen bottles of "house wine" was made for the family and Hobbs of Barossa Ranges was born. Greg and Allison collaborate with winemakers Peter Schell and Chris Ringland to create their wines, spearheaded by a powerful trio of old vine Barossa Shiraz. "Our philosophy is to nurture rather than interfere with nature. Even in bad years, this block produces good fruit. Maybe it is simply being stubborn in old age, refusing to bend to the whims of nature".


10 questions with Allison Hobbs

What is the oldest vineyard that you make wine from?

The beautiful 110 year old vineyard on our property in Flaxmans Valley, which is in the high hills of the Eden Valley.

What is your fvourite part of vintage?

The last day of picking!

What would you do if you weren't in the wine industry?

Working as a registered nurse.

What do you love about your job and why?

I love my office out in the vineyard, my wonderful team (Greg) and being the boss (in a mostly equal partnership with Greg...)

What grape variety or style excites you?

Viognier. It's a temperamental and unpredictable grape to grow, but it makes a beautiful full bodied wine with layers and layers of flavour. Every vintage is different.

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

 - Stay in one of the Barossa's B&B's rather than a hotel.

 - Breakfast burgers at the Farmers Market on Saturday morning

 - Casa Carboni for coffee and cake, lunch or drinks on a friday evening.

 - Artisans of Barossa for a fabulous wine tasting and lunch, or a drink on the deck on a friday evening

 - Hamburgers at Appelation on a summer evening under the stars

What was the first wine you drank?

Lindeman's Ben Ean Moselle, you will have to guess which year!

What (and when) was the first wine you made and what did it teach you?

1998 Old Vine Shiraz from our own vines. It taught me to choose only the finest quality and let the grapes be the hero.

What is it that makes the Barossa home for you?

Sitting at home on the verandah, overlooking Flaxmans Valley with Greg and the family sharing wine and something delicious from the Farmers Market.

How many vintages have you completed?



10 questions with Greg Hobbs

What are the three most memorable wines you have tasted?

Billecarte Salmon Nicholas Francois, Kracher Icewine and the 1945 Haut Brion.

What is the oldest vineyard you make wine from?

The 1905 Shiraz vineyard on our property.

What is your favourite part of vintage?

The first Shiraz pick of the 1905 block

What would you do if you weren't in the wine industry?

I would still be working in the Police Force in the STAR Group.

What do you love about your job and why?

Working with my wonderful wife Allison every day.

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

Taste, Eaat, Drink, Laugh and enjoy one of the top ten wine regions of the world.

What was the first wine you drank?

Mateus Rose.

What is your favourtie meal?

Seafood Laksa

What (and when) was the first wine you made and what did it teach you?

1998 Old Vine Shiraz. It taught me that I know notheing and have everyhing to learn, and I still have a great deal more to learn.

What is it that makes the Barossa home for you?

The Barossa Ranges, our home and vineyard.



Time Posted: 13/02/2017 at 10:57 PM
Sal Johnson
16 January 2017 | Sal Johnson

Winemaker of the Month - Sons of Eden



Winemaker of the Month - Sons of Eden

Sons of Eden has a simple philosophy to produce wines with flavour and personality from vineyards of unique character within the world class Barossa region. Sons of Eden takes its name from the two partners, Winemaker Corey Ryan and Viticulturist Simon Cowham, who both learned and refined their trades in the vineyards and cellars of Eden Valley. Sons of Eden specialises in varieties that the Barossa produces to the highest standard. Varieties such as Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre from the Barossa Valley and Riesling from the Eden Valley


10 questions with Corey Ryan

What are the three most memorable wines you have tasted?

2005 Domaine de la Romanee Conti La Tache

2006 Domaine Leroy Nuits St George 'Aux Allots'

2005 Gravner 'Breg' Anfora

What is the oldest vineyard that you make wines from?

The Cowham Light Pass Shiraz Vineyard is the oldest vineyard we make wine from. The exact age of this vineyard is sketchy, it is likely to be 100+ years old.

What is you favourite part of vintage?

My favourite part of vintage is filling to new oak barrels with freshly pressed red wine. These barrels have such a beautiful aroma when being filled for the first time. My other favourite time is at the end of harvest when I line up all of the individual wines from the year and review them side by side, this is the time of reckoning.

What was your very first job?

My first job was working in a kitchen washing dishes as a high school student. Back breaking work standing over a sink for hours, but taught me some important lessons in life.

What do you love about your job and why?

Meeting new people, travelling and discovering new wines, challenging myself each year to make a better wine than the year before.

What grape variety or style excites you?

Besides Shiraz, Mourvedre and Sangiovese, I have a keen interest in Sagrantino at the moment.

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

-Visit the Artisans of Barossa Tasting Room and have lunch there

-Visit Seppeltsfield and have lunch at Fino - organise a tasting of your birth year Tawny

-Drive out to Eden Valley and return along the High Eden Road - really gives you an understanding of the diversity and beauty if the Barossa region

-Stay overnight or for the weekend in a BnB rather than return to Adelaide

-Visit the small producers of the region - there are plenty

What (and when) was the first wine you made and what did it teach you?

The first wine I made was at university studying Oenology - it was a Sauvignon Blanc from the Adelaide Plains and the wine went hazy (it was protein unstable). It taught me to pay attention to detail.

How Many vintages have you completed?

I did a number of Northern and Southern Hemisphere vintages in the same year for several years so I have clocked up a few. I think it is around 29 vintages now.

How many countries have you made wine in?

Italy, Spain, France, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.



10 questions with Simon Cowham

What are the three most memorable wines you have tasted?

1999 Guigal Condrieu Viognier- honeymoon, Paris, chocolate Croissant

2006 Sons of Eden Remus - Trophy Best Mature Shiraz - Barossa Wine Show 2009

1998 Chateau Reynella Cabernet Sauvignon - 1st vintage at Tintara, McLaren Vale

What is your favourite part of vintage?

Tasting the wines post press - vineyard expression at its finest.

What do you love most about your job?

Working with nature and combining science with creativity to produce something tangible. Also love the vintage variability bought on by site and climate interaction.

What are your top three desert island wines?

Freya Riesling, Pierre Gimmonet Champagne, Guigal Condrieu Viognier

What are you top five tips for visiting the Barossa?

-Allow time and stay mulitple nights

-Have a beer at the Tanunda Club, a local institution

-Seek out small independent wineries by appointment

-Go for a bush walk in Kaiser Stuhl National Park

-Settle in for a long meal at Fermentasian, Hentley Farm or Fino

What was the first wine you made and what did it teach you?

As a cellar rat in 1998 I was amazed at the diversity of Shiraz coming into Tintara Winery from McLaren Vale, Reynella and Padthaway. I learnt the lesson of importance of site.

What makes the Barossa home for you?

It's definitley the community spirit and being small enough to be familiar with its beautiful surroundings and people.

How many vintages have you completed?

23 vintages and counting.

How many countries have you made wine in?

All winemaking in Australia but I have been fortunate to visit many well known regions. The highlight would be clonal selection work in the famous Guigal Cote Rotie vineyards and Chapoutier Hermitage La Chapelle vineyard.

Time Posted: 16/01/2017 at 9:47 AM
Sal Johnson
9 December 2016 | Sal Johnson

10 questions with Tim Duval


This year saw the next generation of Duvals join the John Duval Wines family. After a 7 year stint working as a commercial Lawyer specialising in Wine, Agribusiness and Hospitality, Tim joined the family firm in January this year just in time for vintage madness.

10 questions – Tim Duval

What are the three most memorable wines you have tasted?

- While I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, drinking Cristal as a 17 year old on site at Champagne House Louis Roederer

- Sharing a great bottle of 1986 Grange with family – a birth year bottle for my brother and one of JD’s favourite Grange’s

- Trying Seppelt 100 year old Para Tawny for the first time

What is your favourite part of vintage?

- the first cold beer at the end of a long day is pretty good.. following wines through fermentation and seeing the reflection of the vintage conditions and of the site is a highlight.

What was your first job?

 - working some long, hot, Barossa summers training vines.

What would you do if you weren’t in the wine industry?

- I would probably still be a commercial lawyer, having 7 years as a lawyer under my belt before I joined John Duval Wines. Having said that, my practise as a lawyer still centered around the wine, agribusiness and hospitality industries, so I always had a connection with wine.

What grape variety or style excites you?

- I’m most excited about Grenache at the moment. The Barossa is undergoing a Grenache renaissance, with more serious attention being given to Grenache. And why wouldn’t we, having access to some of the oldest Grenache vines in the world.

What are your top three desert island wines?

- Start with Krug, throw in a 1973 Leo Buring Eden Valley Riesling and finish with some 1978 Conterno Monfortino Barolo.

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

- Take your time to explore – don’t try and do too many wineries in one day

- check out historic Seppeltsfield, try your birth year tawny and eat at Fino.

- Take a walk in the Kaiserstuhl Conservation park

- Visit Hutton Vale Farm – great history, produce and people

- And, of course, spend a lazy afternoon tasting and grazing at Artisans of Barossa.

What was the first wine you drank?

- I was practically weaned on Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet..

What is your role at John Duval Wines and what does it entail?

- I work across a wide range of areas within John Duval Wines. During vintage I am out in the vineyards and in the winery with John. Following vintage, we are on the road or on a plane visiting key markets and connections. I also co-ordinate our labelling, bottling and packaging along with other commercial activities.

The great Bakery question – Apex or Linke’s?

- Apex – I’m a Tanunda boy through and through.

Time Posted: 09/12/2016 at 2:46 PM
Sal Johnson
5 December 2016 | Sal Johnson

Winemaker of the Month - John Duval

Winemaker of the month - John Duval of John Duval Wines

With over 40 vintages under his belt here in the Barossa and winemaking across three continents, what JD doesn't know about making wine - and in particular Shiraz, isn't worth knowing. After a career defining stint as chief Winemaker at Penfolds, John stepped out on his own in 2003 and developed his own label, finally geting his name on the label! I recently caught up with John for a vintage update in one of his top Eden Valley Shiraz vineyards and squeezed in the following 10 questions.

What are the three most memorable wines you have tasted?

 - 1966 Penfolds Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Coonawarra Shiraz – tasted while studying at Roseworthy and influenced me to want to work for Penfolds

- 1948 Penfolds Kalimna Cabernet – a bottle that was given to me while I was at Penfolds and the oldest Penfolds table red wine that I have tasted and a wine that Penfolds didn’t even have a bottle of in their own museum.

- Seppelt Para 1878 Tawny (First vintage of 100 year old Para) remarkable in its concentration and complexity – Barossa at it’s best, unique and world class.

What is the oldest vineyard that you make wine from?

 - 1858 Grenache in the Stonegarden Vineyard in Eden Valley

What is your favourite part of vintage?

- Watching the transformation of fruit during fermentation from some of our best vineyards into wine.

What do you love about your job and why?

- It’s different every day, no two days are the same and it involves a mix of the art and science of wine, it’s a great opportunity to experience great food and cities around the world.

What grape variety or style excites you?

- Shiraz – I am lucky enough to make wines from Shiraz across three continents!

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

- try hot air balloon, it gives you that other perspective of the Barossa

- enjoy some Apex bakery pasties, the unique wood fired oven’s pasties are to die for;

- visit in spring time; the new season; the green of the new vineyard growth, excellent weather, pretty Barossa – at it’s best

- Stay in the Barossa for at least a night, there is much more to do and see than just a day trip

- Visit the Barossa Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning from 7.30am

What was the first wine you drank?

-My grandfather worked for Reynella Wine, so I can remember as a young child being poured a little glass of port and lemonade – quite the treat.

What (and when) was the first wine you made and what did it teach you?

 - The first wine I made (employed as a winemaker) was in 1974 which was my first vintage at Penfolds. It was a wet, difficult year that reinforced the basics of winemaking.

What is it that makes the Barossa home for you?

- It’s the place that I bought up my family. It’s an easy comfortable way of life, full of good food, wine and people.

How many vintages have you completed?

43 Barossa Vintages, with 14 vintages in the US as part of the joint venture with Longshadows in Washington and 13 in Chile with Vina Ventisquera (can I claim 70?)

Time Posted: 05/12/2016 at 1:30 PM
Sal Johnson
30 November 2016 | Sal Johnson

It's a tough job!

The last few weeks the Artisans of Barossa and Harvest Kitchen crews have been out and about visiting some pretty special single site vineyards.

First of the rank was the Angaston foothills vineyard that Jaysen Collins from Massena uses for his JC's Own Originale Grenache. The vineyard is a stunning 150 year old, dry grown & bush vine gem that is nestled into the foothills just out of Angaston - a pretty special spot indeed.

Then it was off into the Eden Valley with John Duval to visit the vineyard that is home to some stunning Shiraz that goes into JD's Entity and Eligo. A quick tasting through the John Duval lineup including a sneak peek at the yet to be released 15 Annexus Grenache.


After that the team headed over to the settlement of Bethany, the original settlement of the German population here in the Barossa and home to the Schwarz family. The Thiele Road Grenache block is one of those hidden gems, Jason Schwarz has been making his old vine and dry grown Grenache of the same name for the last 12 years from this same plot.


Time Posted: 30/11/2016 at 2:47 PM
Sal Johnson
14 November 2016 | Sal Johnson

Winemaker of the Month - Jaysen Collins from Massena

Winemaker of the Month - Jaysen Collins from Massena

A quick chat with Jayse over a glass of Saperavi and a plate of Ribs and I am all caught up on the happenings at Massena including some exciting new releases. This year has seen Jayse take a quick trip to the States for vintage with Forlorn Hope winery and two new products come into the line-up under the JC's Own label. For years Jayse has been setting aside small parcels of fruit and playing around with winemaking techniques to enure that the Massena wines are constantly evolving. Some stellar Grenache from 2015 that was just too good to blend away is the first (of many to come) wine to be released. Adding another string to his bow this year Jaysen has produced a Wermut (aka Vermouth), using Marsanne as the base and then infused with wormwood, juniper, rosehips, lemon peel and a raft of other delicious botanicals, its a beatifully crafted gem.

What is the oldest vineyard that you make wine from? - 150 year old bush vine Grenache in the Barossa foothills near Angaston that goes into my JC’s Own Originale.

What is your favourite part of vintage? - Looking at each vineyard and batch that comes in and deciding on the spot what to do with it.

What was your very first job? - Disbudding roses at a local glasshouse that is long gone.

What would you do if you weren’t in the wine industry? - I’d have a well paying, secure job in finance somewhere, probably more financial success but maybe not so happy.

What do you love about your job and why?- Everyday is different and you get exposed to the whole spectrum of the trials and tribulations of small business, but mostly it is that I can wear casual clothes every day.

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

- Have a bacon challenge – Schulz’s vs Linke’s and see who wins.

- Visit Artisans, grab a glass of Massena Surly Muse Viognier Marsanne and a serve of Harvest Kitchen’s fried chicken.

- Eat at Vintners Bar and Grill in Angaston, a truly iconic regional restaurant.

- Play a round of golf at Tanunda Pines

- Go for a walk in the Kaiser Stuhl National Park

What was the first wine you drank?- Mateus Rose with my folks as a well under age drinker

What (and when) was the first wine you made and what did it teach you? - I started making wine in 2000 from a vineyard that promised a lot but delivered very little. I quickly taught me the importance of the vineyard in making good wine.

What are your top three desert island wines

- Domaine Tempier Rose

- Forlorn Hope Ribolla Gialla

- Etna Erse Bianco

How many vintages have you completed? - 20 - Every Southern hemisphere vintage since 1999 plus 2 northern hemisphere vintages at Forlorn Hope in Califonia

Time Posted: 14/11/2016 at 9:44 AM