Recognising the significant contribution to the Clare Valley Wine Industry

The Clare Valley Wine Makers Inc. recently announced their inaugural “Legends of the Clare Valley Wine Industry” at the 30th Gourmet Weekend Anniversary ‘Black Tie & Pearls’ gala dinner. These awards seek to honour those individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the Clare Valley wine industry in the growing of grapes, production of wine, Clare valley brand marketing or other directly related fields over a significant period of time. 

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Living Legend - Br John May

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Living Legend - Br John May

How can you condense a man’s life into 90 seconds? Especially a man like Brother John May who has led such a varied and spiritual life.

Brother John became Sevenhill’s seventh only Jesuit winemaker after the sudden death of Brother Hanlon in 1972.

With a little help in the early days from the winemaking community, particularly Jim Barry and Tim Knappstein, John went on to create award-winning table wines and has shaped the famous Sevenhill Winery into one of Clare Valley’s most iconic, and most visited, destinations.

Additionally, John has contributed to the wine community with his involvement in the Clare Valley Tourism Association, the Vine Improvement and Landc
are organisations, the Clare Valley Winemakers Association, the Regional Grape Growers Association and the National Wine Foundation Board.    John retired from winemaking in 2003, and was recognised with life membership of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia in 2004.

Even today in his 85th year, John is passionate about the wine industry. As Winemaker Emeritus, he still plays an active role in Sevenhill’s activities conducting public tours which include its history and religious aspect. He also hosts visiting media along with reading and assisting in the church.
 

Tonight, we bestow another title upon this extraordinary man — that of living legend and an inaugural inductee into the Clare Valley Winemakers Hall of Fame.

 

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Living Legend - Jane Mitchell

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Living Legend - Jane Mitchell

Some say that as a nurse, Jane Mitchell is a terrific winemaker. Not that she wasn’t a good nurse, she just preferred tending vines rather than patients.

Which is our gain because without Jane’s enthusiasm, the Clare Gourmet Weekend might not have eventuated.

From humble beginnings where she and her husband Andrew fermented their first vintage in a rubbish bin forty years ago, Mitchell Wines has gone on to become one of the Clare Valley’s and, according to James Halliday, one of Australia’s finest small wineries.

As well as her role in the marketing and management of her own award-winning winery, Jane has been instrumental in the promotion of the Clare Valley wine region.

Some of her impressive list of a
chievements include:

  • Instigator in the formation of Clare Valley Winemakers in 1976 and she’s been an active member since
  • Founder of the Clare Gourmet Weekend concept    
  • Board member of the South Australian Tourism Commission, Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation and Wine Australia
  • A member of the Australian Regional Winemakers Forum Council, the Winemakers Federation of Australia Executive Council and the Australian Wine Export Council
  • And in 2001, she was awarded the Centenary Medal for services to the Australian Wine Industry

Jane’s infectious enthusiasm has certainly help lift the profile of the Clare Valley as a major Australian wine producing region and tonight we recognise her achievements by inducting her into the Clare Valley Winemakers Hall of Fame.

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Living Legend - Jeffery Grosset

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Living Legend - Jeffery Grosset

It takes a lot of vision to turn an abandoned butter factory into a winery. But in 1981 a young, determined Jeffrey Grosset saw the potential that today sees Grosset Wines as one of Clare Valley’s greatest triumphs.

Today, Grosset Wines produces over 11,000 cases of wine and this year celebrates the 34th vintage of Jeffery’s now famous Polish Hill and Springvale Rieslings.

Since establishing himself, Jeffery has dedicated his time to the promotion of wine – whether it’s Grosset Wines specifically or South Australian wines in general. Likewise, he is still one of the Clare Valley Region’s greatest advocates.

In terms of achievements, there have been many including:

  • His pivotal role in ensuring that Riesling remained as a recognised wine variety.His pioneering role in the successful introduction of screw caps.
  • He was announced as ‘Volvo/Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year’ and ‘International Riesling Winemaker of the Year’ in 1998.
  • Named in the 50 most influential winemakers in Wine and Spirits, USA in 2005
  • Included in the world’s Top Ten White Winemakers in Decanter, UK in 2006.
  • Had three Grosset wines make Langton’s Top 100 Australian Wine Brands in 2011
  • And in 2012 announced as “Australian Small Winery of the Year”in the 100th edition of Wine Taste Weekly.

We can now add to those accolades by announcing Jeffery Grosset as an inaugural inductee into the Clare Valley Winemakers Hall of Fame.

 

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Past Legend - Carl Sobels

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Carl Sobels 

Few will be aware that traditional German winemaking skills came to the Clare Valley as early as 1869 when Carl Sobels brought his family and a unique winemaking talent to the Spring Vale Winery at Watervale.

Success came early to Carl and Spring Valley Wines when, after just one year, its first wine was released. Five years later the winery won a trophy for a full bodied white wine at the 1895 Agricultural and Horticultural Society Wine Show.

With the aid of his Bother-in-Law Herman Büring, Carl bought Spring Vale Wines and set about developing the winery by acquiring neighbouring holdings, increasing plantings and extending its cellars. It was about this time that the Quelltala label began to assume prominence.

In 1910, Herman and Carl converted their partnership into a limited company – H. Büring and Sobels Ltd. Quelltala Wines under Carl’s leadership won prizes, trophies and accolades in London, Bordeaux, Paris, Philadelphia and at home. Carl retired soon after his fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1917 and moved to Leabrook in Adelaide where he died in 1923.

He was a born winemaker and blender who know his grapes, his soil and his wines. Along with his wife Meta, he was dedicated to the welfare of the Watervale community. He was a gifted musician, an accomplished coppersmith and a Justice of the Peace.

Carl’s Sobels’ pioneering efforts are recognised annually with the Carl Sobels Trophy for Best Vintage Section Dry Red in Show and tonight we further celebrate his talents as an inaugural inductee in the Clare Valley Winemakers Hall of Fame.

 

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Past Legend - Jim Barry

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Past Legend - Jim Barry

It would be a brave person to pass comment about the Clare Valley and its uniquely beautiful wines without any reference to the legacy left by the late Jim Barry.

As Roseworthy Agricultural College’s 17th graduate and the Clare Valley region’s first qualified winemaker, Jim bought science to Clare Valley winemaking – firstly at Clarevale Co-operative and later at Taylor’s Winery at Auburn before going on to establish his own winery on the northern outskirts of Clare in the early 1970s.

He mentored many young local winemakers in the area, many of which are now legends in their own right, and demonstrated his foresight and innovation by introducing the region to drip irrigation in vineyards. A foundation member of the Clare Valley
Winemakers further demonstrated his on-going commitment to the area.  

Known to enjoy a daily glass of his multi-awarded Watervale Riesling, Jim’s other great love was horses. Jim and wife Nancy’s Lodge Hill property, one of Clare Valley’s highest vineyards, also cater for Jim’s thoroughbred horse stud.

Jim’s passion for creating great wine and his dedication to his beloved Clare Valley makes him one of the key figures in winemaking, not only in Clare Valley, but in Australia and abroad.

Jim’s wines, as indeed the man himself, have received a tremendous number of accolades. Fittingly, Jim’s name is on the Clare Valley Winemakers’ trophy for Best Wine of Show and tonight we honour one of Clare Valley’s best as an inaugural inductee into the Clare Valley Winemakers Hall of Fame.

 

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Past Legend - Mick Knappstein

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Past Legend - Mick Knappstein

To be respected by your wine industry peers is one thing, but to be respected as one of life’s true gentlemen is quite another — and that’s exactly how most people knew Mick Knappstein or ‘Mr Mick’ as he was affectionately known.

Mick Knappstein’s devotion to wine was instilled at an early age with his father having established the Stanley Wine Company.

However, it was amongst the vines that Mick was most gifted. His passion as a vine grower led to the propagation of premium Riesling in the 1960s — creating and capitalising on the demand for the style.

Drawing on his uncanny ability to read wine trends, Mick experimented by blending table wines in the Leasingham stable. His success with the legendary Bin 56 Cabernet Malbec helped to establish the Clare Valley as noted region for blended red styles.
    
Mick was determined to remove the elitism from wine and is famed for hosting public educational tastings and winemakers dinners in an effort to demystify the wine making process. It was one of the reasons he was referred to as the ‘people’s winemaker’.    With over 50 active years in the winemaking industry, Mick was a leading force not only in Stanley Leasingham Wines but as also within many wine industry organisations. He was awarded life membership of the Wine and Brandy Producers Association and also received an Order of Australia for services to the wine industry.

Mick passed away in 1997 but is remembered annually by the Clare Valley Winemakers with the Mick Knappstein Trophy for the best current vintage Riesling. And tonight, we continue to both remember, acknowledge and honour ‘Mr Mick’ as an inaugural inductee into the Clare Valley Winemakers Hall of Fame.

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Winemaker of the Year - 2014: Kevin Mitchell, Kilikanoon Wines

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Kevin Mitchell, Kilikanoon Wines

Kevin Mitchell’s vast wine industry experience includes the likes of Krondorf, d'Arenberg, Kingston Estate, Orlando, BRL Hardy, Kendall Jackson and Willamette Valley in the US, before purchasing the Kilikanoon property in late 1997.

Since then, Kilikanoon has established itself as one of the premium wine brands in Australia winning ‘Best Shiraz in the World’ twice, James Halliday’s Winery of the Year, and countless other awards. Kevin is also actively involved in increasing awareness of the Clare Valley.

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Viticulturalist of the Year - 2014: Colin Hinze, Taylors Wines

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Colin Hinze, Taylors Wines

With more than 18-years professional experience in the wine industry, viticulturist Colin Hinze is responsible for the technical management of Taylors Wines premium vineyards in the Clare Valley.

Ever the perfectionist, Colin has introduced grape yield mapping, instigated the collection of plant cell density imagery and began investigating ways to manage Eutypa Dieback.

Colin has also partnered with the CSIRO on a number of research projects at Taylors and has shared his research and development techniques with other Clare Valley grape growers.

 

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Rising Star Award - 2014: Steve Baraglia, Pikes Wines

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Steve Baraglia, Pikes Wines

Steve Baraglia’s interest in wine began at his family vineyard at Williamstown.
After gaining degrees in both Winemaking and Viticulture, Steve started at Pikes as a winemaker. Just two years on, he started Naked Run Wines with a couple of mates and later, with wife Laura, purchased the Hill 5 vineyard at Sevenhill.

Over the past 10 years Steve has expanded his experience and technical knowledge in viticulture and winemaking. He is now senior winemaker at Pikes, a staunch Clare Valley advocate and is also in demand as a wine show judge.