My Favourite Organic Wines
June 23, 2012
By Sam Statham
If you have had Rosnay, hopefully you are “converted” to an organic wine drinker! You may be interested in my personal directory of my favourite organic wineries which we have done business with, visited, or at least tasted and met through industry networking… With the supermarkets taking over the trade around the country (including most recently our best and oldest outlet in Sydney, Balmain Village Cellars), its the time to support the organic wineries.
Temple Bruer Wines
Langhorn Creek, Eden Valley and Loxton, SA
David Bruer makes great wines and is one of the pioneers of organic wine in Australia. We visited his vineyard when we were starting out and are always grateful for his generous advice. David started out as a chemist and so his approach to viticulture and winemaking is precision. His wines are consistent, solid, often quite bold, as seems to be the style of the region. He founded the Organic Vignerons of Australia (which was absorbed by the BFA). He is a leader in sustainabilty certification with his ISO 9001 and low carbon certification, and also in preservative free wines which now form a major part of the range.
The oldest organic vineyard in Australia. First planted in the 1970’s organically by Gil Wahlquist, and taken over in the 90’s by Kevin and Trina Karstrom, this iconic winery was the first port of call for us when we were investigating the organic options. Kevin’s openness with all his techniques and tricks for organic viticulture was most impressive. Kevin would be more on the “artist” end of the winemaking spectrum, experimenting with parcels from his own as well as different vineyards, including Rosnay. Botobolar is also one of the largest unirrigated vineyards in Australia.
Wild Fox Wines
Gawler River, SA
Petros Markou is a lovely guy who started out in organic wine in his vineyad in SA about the same time as us. We often run into Petros at organic expos and wine shows, and I must say that both he and his wines are of great character. His preservative free wines have been very popular.
Herb and Jenny Gardner are our neighbours and friends but dont take my word for their wine quality – they won the trophy for best wine in the region a couple of years ago. Herb grows grapes with an engineers eye, and the vineyard is very tidy and well tended, and makes us over the road look untidy at times! They produce Shiraz and Chardonnay, from which some great table wines, methode champenoise, and preservative free wines. Definitely worth a try if you can get them. They are mainly distributed up in Queensland.
Across the river, over a couple of hills and towards the rocky slopes of Mount Nangar, Margaret Wallington is the most recent vigneron our wine region to formally abandon chemicals and become certified as organic and Biodynamic. She has her own small winery, housed in a strawbale building, which itself is worth a look. There are some exciting varieties in her vineyard including Grenache, Petit Verdot, Mouverdre, Tempranillo and Viognier.
Pig in the House
Jason O’Dea is a friend of mine but again, no need to take my word for the quality of his wine which beat ours at the last local wine show – so they must be pretty amazing 😉 Hats off to Jason for going organic on his own vineyard, and hopefully more blocks as they are converted to organic, in what is the region’s largest vineyard and only large scale winery. Its a pretty big risk to take but the fact is, as quoted in a recent post here, is that he has been getting his best Shiraz from organic blocks this year. Maybe this can help Jason, the younger generation, convert more hectares to organic.
Wayne and Kaye Nobbs were fairly early starters in the organic wine movement, planting grapes in 1994. Settlers Ridge is the first IFOAM accredited winery in Australia (IFOAM being the highest organic status accepted world-wide). We often run into Kaye at the Organic Expo. One day when we get over to the West, we will certainly be dropping in.
Rothbury, Hunter Valley, NSW
Ross and Derise McDonald grow some great Biodynamic Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Semillon, Chardonnay and Verdelho. Hats off to them for going organic and biodynamic in this coastal region, which can sometimes have disasterous rains and humidity in the growing season. The wines are great expressions of the Hunter Valley.
Battle of Bosworth
Willunga, McLaren Vale, SA
Joch Bosworth and Louise Helmsley Smith are continuing a family tradition in viticulture and produce some fantastic wines with a reputation for their sense of humour and innovation. For example, using Soursob as a living mulch, a plant that shades out the summemr weeds, and also features as the logo.
Greenock, Barossa Valley, SA
This organic biodynamic vineyard is very imtpressive and one day we will have to go there. It has vines planted as long ago as 1875, has been going for 7 generations, and is a big 120 acres. Clearly lots of hard work from the brothers Troy and Tony is paying off with some great accolades at home and overseas.
Beechworth, Northest Victoria
Richard and I met Julian and Carolann Castagna at the Biodynamic Conference at Tocal in 1997, and we were all setting out on the biodynamic journey. Their vineyard is a bit smaller than ours, but their reputation today dwarfs ours! Julians experience in France and his passion for Biodynamics combine to produce what are arguably some of the best wines in Australia. I did vintage there, briefly, in about 2004, and was most impressed by the detailed care given to every bunch, loving received into the state of the art strawbale winery. I like Julian’s view that true biodynamic wine does not need certification, but the proof is in the wine.
Glencoe, New England NSW
Scott and Julie Wright grow some fine Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Riesling in the high altitude of the New England plateau in northern NSW. We will have to drop in there on our next trip north.
Blampied, Central Victoria
The May family are pioneers in the organic industry. Doug and Carolyn May are the third generation farming the land introducing wine grapes and establishing the vineyard in 1994 in a district traditionally cultivated for potato growing. Doug’s brother Rod was a founder of the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture in Australia (NASAA) – and I suspect its his vegetables in the Organic Food Boxes promoted on the winery’s website.
Polkolbin, Broke, and Orange NSW
When Mark Davisdon went from “Environmentally Friendly” to “Certified Organic” in his vineyards, the organic wine movement took a double skip forward. Tamburlaine is now one the largest organic wine producers in the country, with nearly 300 acres certified in Pokolbin and Orange. The original winery is at Pokolbin, and the picturesque site is popular for weddings and has a 5 Star rating from James Halliday. The best wines are available only to club members. If I didnt get to taste them so often at shows and expos, I would have to join.
Robinvale, Murray River VIC
We often see Steve Caracatsanoudis at organic shows and expos, and we love his wines. The vineyard was started by his father George in 1976, and in the heart of the Robinvale wine district, on the Murray River. We’ve been there a couple of times and are always impressed by Steve and Bill’s passion for what they do. They have a huge wine range, including several preservative free wines.
Warren, Western Slopes NSW
Shane and Tessa McLaughlin grow grapes on a semi arid property that has been in Shane’s fmaily since the 1880’s. The 30,000 acre sheep property now also grows 80 acres of Merlot, Grenache, Mourvedre, Semillon, Verdelho, Chardonnay and Tempranillo. They have been very successful in exporting the wines. I tried some great wines last year at he Carrington in Katoomba – including the ’05 Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre and Drought Reserve wines.
Broke-Fordwich, Hunter Valley NSW
A 50 acre biodynamic vineyard fully family owned and managed – sounds like Rosnay – but in the Hunter Valley… Rod Windrim from Krinklewood is one of the Hunter’s best known boutique biodynamic vignerons and we love the wines, especially the Wild Red and Wild White. Rod holds lots of biodynamic workshops and events on the farm, which is conveniently close to Sydney and Newcastle. Thanks to “Organic Wine” for reminding me that I missed this great winery!