Why energy giant Sonnen chose to invest in SA

Global energy storage giant Sonnen is producing its first Australian assembled batteries at the former Holden factory in Elizabeth as its workforce builds to some 150 within months.

Operations and finance managing director Marc Sheldon believes South Australia is the ideal place for the German-headquartered company to work toward producing 10,000 batteries a year to meet demand in Australia and the neighbouring Asia Pacific region.

“The energy market as it exists in SA is unique, it is more advanced than any OECD country in its transition to renewable energy,” Marc says.

This, he says, gives the Sonnen company the opportunity to address challenges and be prepared for a market it expects to develop rapidly throughout the region in the next few years.

It also means Sonnen has established itself in a state where it has access to highly skilled workers and companies with a “can do” attitude.

Sonnen’s operations and finance managing director Marc Sheldon, left, Sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann and managing director for Australia and Asia Pacific Nathan Dunn.

Marc says more than 50 local employees are already on the production line and almost all of them are ex-Holden staff – while another more than 100 are working as installers through the supply chain.

The company is well on the way to creating about 430 new jobs in the state within 18 months, he says, as outlined when the new Liberal State Government announced earlier this year that Sonnen would be moving into the repurposed Holden factory.

“What we do is advanced manufacturing in the purest sense, we leverage the innate capabilities in the market itself,” Marc says.

“We’ve indicated before that one of the key challenges for us when we are choosing a site is around availability of talent and availability of staff to fill those roles, what we’ve now really found is lots of well educated, well trained staff.”

Sonnen is supporting the new $100 million Home Battery Scheme announced by the State Government in September that provides a subsidy of up to $6000 per household to install home battery systems.

From October, 40,000 South Australian households have had access to the scheme designed to reduce electricity costs and demand on the network, in turn delivering lower power prices for all South Australians.

Sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann, far left, shows Premier Steven Marshall, and Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan, far right, Sonnen systems at the company’s official launch in SA.

The $100 million in State Government subsidies was also matched with $100 million in finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to provide low-interest loans for the balance of the battery and new solar if required.

When the scheme was announced, Premier Steven Marshall said priority was being given to qualified system providers who commit to installing approved battery systems that are manufactured or assembled in SA.

Sonnen was the first provider to be afforded the nine-week priority period – meaning their products were exclusively available to households – with additional brands available after the nine-week period.

The company describes its world-leading sonnenBatterie as a high-tech energy storage system that automatically adjusts the energy usage in a household in combination with solar panels to provide clean, renewable energy.

“There’s a reason why we’re going to SA, we’re quite impressed with what the government has been able to put together since its election and the feeling we’ve received from people in SA is really good, there’s a can-do attitude,” Marc says.

“Businesses we meet with say we can do that right now or let’s sit down and see how we can make that happen … that makes us quite happy looking at the future.”

Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan, left, and Premier Steven Marshall congratulate Sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann, on the company’s establishment in Adelaide.

Sonnen will use Adelaide as its Australian headquarters and shipping centre for the Asian region, and Marc says the first SA assembled batteries to be exported will head to New Zealand in January.

The company aims to assemble and manufacture 50,000 energy storage systems at the site over the next five years, after its plans to establish the battery production plant in Adelaide were initially announced in February 2018.

Manufacturing costs are also now proving to be positive from the initial cost projected in pre-planning as Marc says there already had been an increase in productivity per head by 30% as the process was streamlined.

Sonnen has also appointed a new Australian managing director Nathan Dunn to support growth with Marc, who has worked for Sonnen for the past three years, saying there was much potential in SA.

“I think in South Australia everything is moving in the right direction and a lot of very interesting developments are happening right now that will benefit the state,” he adds.

Header image: The Sonnen Adelaide team. Photo by Danielle Marie.

Industry in focus: Trade and Investment

Throughout the months of January and February, the state’s trade and investment industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is in a prime position for trade and investment opportunities as we have a 24-hour connection to international markets and a prime reputation for our premium products and services.  Read more trade and investment stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

[logooos_saved id=”35109″]



Old Lucky Bay shop to reopen at centenary celebrations

It was 100 years ago that Eyre Peninsula farmers first created their own summer playground at Lucky Bay.

Escaping the hot dry interior with their families, canny farmers erected ramshackle shacks along a golden, but often seaweed strewn, stretch of sandy beach near Cowell.

Now, current generations of those pioneer families will return on January 12, 2019, to celebrate the centenary of the first shacks being built – and many of their beloved summer rituals will resume.

Lucky Bay beach in 1939.

Sue Chase, who is now president of the Lucky Bay Shack Owners Association, remembers in her childhood how she sat up on the counter of Cornelius’s Shop, a pop-up deli run by the Cornelius family that would only be open for five weeks after Christmas.

Wide-eyed and excited, she loved choosing individual favourite treats for her paper bag of mixed lollies. Much later, her children’s customary treats from the same shop were freshly buttered finger buns after completing their morning swimming lessons on the beach.

Her father had been a shop customer, too, and now Sue’s grandchildren will get a taste of the shop’s wares when Shannon Cornelius, son of the original operator, reopens the pop-up for the first time in a decade, as a pivotal part of the Lucky Bay centenary celebrations.

“Going to that shop became a symbol of summer for me, and having it open again will bring back a flood of happy memories for me and a lot other people who enjoyed their holidays at Lucky Bay,” says Sue.

New Years Eve Day, 1922, at Lucky Bay.

Other attractions on January 12 will include the Lions Club of Cowell moving its monthly foreshore market to the Lucky Bay beach.

A collection of Lucky Bay memorabilia and historical photos showing various shacks and beachgoers through the past 100 years will be displayed in the local hall – along with a nostalgic display of swimwear through the decades, which Sue explains will only be a static exhibition.

“We couldn’t get any volunteers who were game enough to act as models,” she offers with a chuckle.

While the pace at Lucky Bay remains slow, things have changed in the past decade, since a harbour was dredged nearby to accommodate the Wallaroo-to-Cowell ferry.

A family outside one of the first beach shacks at Lucky Bay.

This finally brought a bitumen road to Lucky Bay, which has increased the flow of traffic and attracted more day visitors.

The centenary celebrations will hark back to simpler times, especially an array of old-fashioned events being among organised beach sports activities, with three-legged races, a sandcastle building competition and egg and spoon races for children, and a giant tug-o-war and greasy pole climbing competition for adults.

The beach activities will be completed with an IronMan and IronWoman competition, kayak races, and a fishing and casting competition.

For full details of the Lucky Bay centenary celebrations, which will include a live music concert and fireworks display on the beach after dark, visit the Lucky Bay South Australia Facebook page.

Let us know via the Brand South Australia Facebook page if you have any old photos of Cornelius’s Shop.

Got a good story idea? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories are made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners

[logooos_saved id=”29687″]

Festival provides a richer taste of French culture

There’s nothing so sensual, so essentially French as indulging all the senses around the finest food, wine and music.

This is why Valerie Henbest, proprietor of the Adelaide Central Market’s Smelly Cheese Shop, has created special events for the 2019 Adelaide French Festival, pushing boundaries with innovative creative concepts that combine multiple art forms with culinary pleasures.

As part of the French-accented cultural festival being held in and around the Adelaide Festival Centre from January 11–13, Valerie is curating Sonic Seasoning on January 13, teaming a performance by contemporary Adelaide string ensemble Zephyr Quartet with a structured champagne and cheese tasting on the Dunstan Playhouse stage, to test whether music can heighten appreciation of fine wine and cheese.

“I’m so passionate about exploring food sensory experiences, so I want to test the relationship between the five senses and fine food through a musical journey,” says French-born Valerie.

“It’s an event that will allow people to get maximum pleasure from a tasting masterclass, so they truly remember a magical experience.”

Valerie Henbest of the Smelly Cheese Shop will bring the flavours of France to Adelaide in January.

Valerie has also created Le Salon for the Adelaide French Festival with the State Opera, featuring music by 18th century French composers while she instructs the audience how to best enjoy cheese, champagne and chocolate.

“I want to revisit the fantastic possibility that the 18th century Paris salons presented in creating a diverse cultural hub, but with 21st century influences. I see this as a way to reconnect people – as a way of getting people to stop hiding behind their screens.”

These shows are an example of how the Adelaide French Festival – created by the Adelaide Festival Centre and presented for the first time in 2018 – is growing for its 2019 program, and providing a springboard for creativity in how it presents aspects of French culture, and Adelaide’s connection to it.

The three-day program presents an eclectic mix of music, theatre, dance, food, wine, art, fashion, film and family activities.

Photo courtesy of So Frenchy So Chic.

Adelaide French Festival creative director Beck Pearce says it’s an important cultural signpost for Adelaide, which is forging many strong ties to French industry, triggering a recent influx of French families living in Adelaide – which has ensured a strong family and children’s components to the festival program.

“We want the widest possible reach, so we have encouraged creativity in building a very diverse and eclectic program,” she says.

“And that means there is something for everyone within this festival.”

Affordability is key, and food and drink is integral to the mix – such as the Junior Sous Chef classes allowing kids to enjoy a hands-on pastry cooking class with Le Cordon Bleu pastry chef Jenni Key at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Star Kitchen and Bar.

At the top end of culinary treats, chef Nathalie Beauvais, hailing from the restaurant Le Jardin Gourmand in the Brittany port town of Lorient, is presenting a special French cooking class featuring the flavours of Brittany, and an extravagant seafood feast with SA ingredients.

Photo courtesy of So Frenchy So Chic.

Local businesses are plugging into the festival program, none more enthusiastically than Dominique Lentz, the French owner of Adelaide small bar La Buvette. He’s presenting four short events on January 13 – French Spirits Masterclasses hosted by Mikael Gillard, and two novel sessions on the art of French flirting and seduction.

Within the festival’s music events, Adelaide musicians are showing great creativity. Percussionist Jarrad Payne and jazz violinist Julian Ferraretto are doing live accompaniment to a vintage Georges Méliès film, A Trip to the Moon, at Nexus Performance Space on January 13.

Jarrad is also part of the Piping Shrike Brass Band, a raucous nine-member New Orleans-inspired marching jazz ensemble, led by brass virtuoso Adam Page, performing at the Space Theatre on January 12.

There’s even a mini festival within a festival, with one-day pop music garden party So Frenchy So Chic being held on the Torrens riverbank at Pinky Flat on January 11, featuring French pop starlets Camille, Yelle, Clara Luciani and Clea Vincent.

Photo courtesy of So Frenchy So Chic.

Organiser Jean-François Ponthieux has been presenting events under the So Frenchy So Chic brand in Australia for 15 years – initially in Melbourne, then Sydney – but brought his outdoor festival to Adelaide for the first time in 2018, and is delighted to be working in partnership with the Adelaide French Festival.

“It’s the perfect setting to be showcasing the best of what modern French pop music has to offer right now,” says Jean-François. “I have a taste for French music as others have a taste for fine pinot noir, and I want to share my discoveries.”

It all underlines strengthening ties between Adelaide and France, especially since the SA Government officially opened an SA office in Paris in September 2017.

Connections are not only being made in culture, food and wine (such as Adelaide joining Bordeaux as a member of the Great Wine Capitals), but also in industry, research and education – from submarine and warfare destroyer construction, to an Australian-French Entrepreneurship Challenge, and Flinders University’s growing ties with scholarships and research partnerships in France.

“This festival makes a big cultural statement – and it’s an idyllic way of introducing a wider audience to all that French culture has to offer,” says Bec Pearce. “It’s going to be delicious fun.”

Photo courtesy of So Frenchy So Chic.

Riverland nature the inspiration behind Jax and Co

The Riverland’s native flora and prime horticulture crops including pistachios, citrus and olives are often the inspiration behind handcrafted contemporary jewellery label Jax and Co.

Maker Jax Isaacson doesn’t have to wander far to gather materials used to make the durable and sustainable pieces made predominantly from resin and reclaimed Australian Mallee wood.

“I use all local reclaimed Australian wood, and my signature wood is white Mallee, which is indigenous to this region,” she says from her home studio in Waikerie.

“It’s all reclaimed from naturally fallen trees or agricultural clearings, and I use a bit of orange, pistachio and olive (trees) that people might be pulling out.”

Jax and Co spheres encase botanicals sourced from Jax’s garden. Photo by Rosina Possingham.

Living on a pistachio farm, Jax can forage around the property to collect the fallen bits of wood, while she also sources botanicals from her garden and those of family and friends.

The botanicals are preserved and set in resin – a glass like material – and made into decorative spheres and ring holders.

“I am originally from Waikerie and the environment and area is very special to me,” Jax says. “I want to share the beauty of Waikerie and the natives which a lot of people don’t get to see.”

For jewellery pieces such as earrings, pendants, rings, bangles and cuff links, Jax predominantly uses resin and the sustainably reclaimed Mallee wood.

She will set about to collect the burl – a knot or lump that grows on a tree and often sought after by artists and furniture makers – before cleaning the bark off and naturally drying out the wood for 12 months.

Mallee burl. Photo by Rosina Possingham.

The wood, once dried and cut, is mixed in with the resin and set before the product is carved, shaped and polished into finished statement pieces.

Jax has a background in graphic design, but decided to experiment with resin kits as a bit of a hobby while at home with her small children.

“I always loved the bright colours in the resin and the durability of it. At one point I put wood into the resin and the outcome was spectacular,” she says.

“I was wearing one of the pieces of jewellery I had made when somebody saw it and wanted to buy it, so I let them, and I made another one and sold that too. I got all this interest just through word of mouth and it was really quite full on, I wasn’t expecting that.”

In 2016 Jax decided to officially start her own label, giving it a name and using her graphic design skills to launch the brand.

Aside from online, Jax and Co now sells in four stores in Adelaide, a handful of shops in the Riverland, and also interstate.

Jax says there is growing demand for sustainable and handmade goods in the marketplace.

“In the last couple of years I think there has been a real shift in consumer attitude towards sustainability. People are starting to see that the outcome of our throwaway culture isn’t positive,” she says.

“A lot of people are happy to pay more for a quality product that offers a difference, and is handmade locally and they can appreciate that time and effort has been put into it.

“I like the way we’re heading.”

The Jax and Co workshop. Photo by Rosina Possingham.

Header photo features Jax Isaacson with a Mallee burl. Photo by Rosina Possingham.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

Coffin Bay sea to plate experience expanded with new Oyster HQ

The unique experience of wading into an oyster lease and shucking fresh oysters plucked straight from the sea has proved so popular that Coffin Bay Oyster Farm Tours has built a striking new visitor centre to accommodate surging visitor numbers.

The official opening of Oyster HQ on December 20 – a seafood tasting and tourism centre on the Coffin Bay foreshore that can accommodate up to 85 people – is the culmination of a frantic six months for Coffin Bay Oyster Farm Tours proprietors Ben and Kim Catterall.

Having won approval from the council for the new building, they have been racing to complete the expansive glass-walled tasting room and deck overlooking the bay before summer’s high visitation season – all while their business has boomed, attracting more than double the number of customers from the previous year.

The view from the deck overlooking the oyster lease.

“It’s an idea that has really delighted a lot of people – the experience of tasting famous Coffin Bay oysters direct from the water where they are harvested,” says Kim.

“It has the wow factor that has got a lot of people from around the world wanting to come and do it themselves.”

The unique appeal of their offering is the Salt Water Pavilion, a partly submerged deck with fixed seating and bench tables that allow up to 24 tour participants to sit in industrial-strength rubber waders to learn about oyster production, the knack of how to open them (without jabbing their fingers), and then taste both Pacific and native Angasi oysters in the company of a chilled beverage.

After this, guests can linger a while longer back on dry land, on the deck of Oyster HQ overlooking the oyster lease, with the option to graze on fresh Eyre Peninsula seafood tasting plates that feature more Coffin Bay oysters with a range of dressings, smoked tuna and tuna sashimi, mussels from Boston Bay, Spencer Gulf prawns and local abalone.

The building will also serve as a hire facility for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, while the Catteralls can provide up to four tours to the Salt Water Pavilion each day.

Ben Catterall and his visitors enjoy the famous Coffin Bay oysters sourced direct from the water where they are harvested.

This looks set to be pushed to the limit over summer, as Kim has been receiving significant early bookings for the first time, from people wanting to ensure places on specific tours.

This enterprise represents the next significant step in Ben’s aim of developing outstanding regional tourism experiences. A builder by trade, he came to Coffin Bay about 15 years ago and built the 1802 Oyster Bar and Bistro, named after the year in which explorer Matthew Flinders charted the area.

Ben later bought the oyster lease out the front of the restaurant, then built the Salt Water Pavilion and developed the aquatic tours to satisfy growing tourist curiosity in tasting local oysters at their source.

Ben and Kim then bought the shorefront Beachcomber Bakery and Café to also serve as an operations hub for tour groups, but demand has called for bigger premises, prompting Ben to build the new Oyster HQ.

It will be open daily from December 22, and serviced by hotel pickup and return transport options from Port Lincoln to Coffin Bay.

Ben Catterall pulls an oyster basket from the sea.

Got a good story idea? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories are made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners

[logooos_saved id=”29687″]

From butcher shop to leather craft studio

Raw red brick walls and the scent of leather surround talented bag creator Sasha Carroll in her old butcher shop studio at Mile End in Adelaide’s inner western suburbs.

“The locals say this was once a really popular continental butcher, it was one of the first in Adelaide making yiros and chorizo sausage,” Sasha says from the studio on a street lined with old workers’ cottages.

Now its interior has beautiful hand crafted leather handbags hanging from the original butcher hooks with sewing machines and stacks of leather scattered around the space below.

Sasha has about 15 different styles of carefully designed and handmade classic satchels, tote bags and wallets that she sells in rich colours like whiskey and tan through her Butcher Byrd business.

It’s a business attracting a growing number of fans including well-known Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist Dan Sultan who recently discovered Sasha’s work via Instagram and bought four bags.

Small hip satchel.

“It’s about simplicity, I just like really classic designs so they are mostly about the leather, there’s a place for the sparkly, crazy stuff, but I just like to create a lifetime bag, a bag you will have forever, and a bag that improves with age,” Sasha says.

It was about five years ago that Sasha started Butcher Byrd after having first studied bespoke custom shoemaking at the former Marleston TAFE and then worked together with well-known JamFactory shoe and leather maker Rose-Anne Russell.

She was still busy making shoes when her true making passion gradually emerged.

“It was when I realised that the satchel that I had designed and made for my husband and the tote that I had designed and made for my mother were still going strong after 10 years of everyday use,” she says.

“They were battered, soft and worn, better with age, and would get numerous comments from strangers and friends. My mum had often joked that she could have sold hers many times over.”

At the time, Sasha and Neil had moved into a Mile End house next door to her sister’s former butcher shop home – and, when her sister moved interstate in 2014, a new inspiration emerged for the building’s growing history.

Sasha Carroll in the old butcher shop which has been transformed into her leather bags and accessories studio.

“Suddenly, I was next door to this space and I said let’s turn it into a workspace as I was just getting into making bags,” Sasha says.

“The name Butcher Byrd made sense for the business, it was about the woman working in the butcher shop and working with leather, it was like it was meant to be.”

There’s been growing success for Sasha since she sold her earliest bags at One Small Room in Queen Street and later won a place at the Bowerbird market.

Now the bags are also stocked at Brick and Mortar Creative in Norwood, a café and store featuring more than 80 local, independent artists, along with Field Trip at Balhannah in the Adelaide Hills where Mim Clarkson and Linda Marek also sell their own clothing, jewellery and homewares.

Most of her sales are made through Etsy with plans underway to revamp the website next year and to possibly redefine the product range with some core designs and releasing two seasonal ranges each year.

Sasha says there’s a strong support network among designers in South Australia with the Bowerbird market particularly drawing the local community together to forge bonds.

Each bag is designed and crafted on site.

It was through the market that she also built solid relationships with Adelaide furniture designer, maker and I Choose SA ambassador Robin Wood and the team behind Frock Me Out who are “now going gangbusters”.

And then there’s Bulb Lighting that share her studio space for their growing events business.

Sasha says working from the Mile End studio has created an important life balance while her children Frankie, 6, and Bobby, 2, are younger, and it has also given her the opportunity to constantly reassess the direction of the business.

She plans to expand during the next few years and to employ staff to help with the making as she finds it increasingly difficult to meet demand from more stores wanting to stock her products.

Sasha is also considering using more of the traditional vegetable tanned leather, made using an age-old process that can take two to three months, with all her leather sourced through local retailer D.S. Horne.

“There’s something about sitting down with a piece of leather and a pattern and drawing it up, piecing it together, putting the handles on and then putting it up on the butcher hook that works for me,” Sasha adds.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

McLaren Vale centre of organic, biodynamic winemaking

McLaren Vale – one of South Australia’s most renowned wine regions – is often noted for being home to some of the world’s oldest grape vines.

But did you know that McLaren Vale is also home to a high concentration of sustainable grapegrowers and winemakers?

A local industry program, Sustainable Australia Winegrowing (SAW) is an initiative of the McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association (MVGWTA) and says the region is the nation’s centre of sustainable winegrowing.

The program captures data from 130 local vineyards and wineries who can identify as sustainable through a set of environmental, economic and social considerations.

MVGWTA general manager Jennifer Lynch says grapegrowers who are part of SAW account for more than 70% of McLaren Vale’s entire crush.

Grapevines at Paxton Wines, McLaren Vale.

“The evidence-based farming practices are collected through more than 130 different data points across seven different subjects of sustainability … it’s a very holistic approach,” she says.

“The environmental indicators are quite obvious (soil health, fertiliser management, pest and disease management, water and waste management) but you have to also consider economic and social indicators, such as their worker and social relations, community relations, and overall profitability of the business.

“We are ecstatic the SAW program accounts for more than 70% of McLaren Vale’s entire crush, and for a voluntary program it’s an exceptional membership rate. It shows the industry is conscious of sustainable production.”

Jennifer says 10% of SAW McLaren Vale members are certified organic or biodynamic wineries and vineyards, while a further near 10% are practicing (but not certified) organic or biodynamic producers. The remaining percentage use low input conventional management practices to control pests and diseases.

Organic farming uses no synthetic pesticides or additives, while biodynamic farming involves a more holistic approach, identifying the property as entire ecosystem and also taking into consideration the lunar cycle and astrological influences.

Members of SAW account for 70% of McLaren Vale’s entire crush. This includes fruit from Gemtree Wines, pictured.

But a wine business can still be sustainable without adhering to organic or biodynamic practices.

“The important point to note is that sustainability does not favour one particular farming method over another,” Jennifer says.

“Sustainability covers conventional, certified and practising organic and biodynamic, and low input management with integrated pest management practice. There are various farming methods that sustainability can encompass – it is a continuum.”

Some of the wineries at the centre of McLaren Vale’s sustainable winemaking operations include the organic and biodynamic certified d’Arenberg, Paxton Wines, Gemtree Wines, and Wirra Wirra.

Melissa and Mike Brown at Gemtree Wines went certified organic and biodynamic in 2011, building upon Gemtree’s history which dates back to the 1980s.

They say biodynamic farming practices make a “huge difference” to the health of the soil and vines.

Melissa and Mike Brown of Gemtree Wines.

“As soon as we removed the chemicals, the herbicides and the pesticides we noticed that activity was back in the soil, the vines seemed to become a bit more resilient and were able to deal with extremes a bit more,” Mike says.

“We’re not saying we’re under a beautiful cloud and we’re not affected by the weather, but the vines seemed to be able to bounce back and have much a much more even, balanced structure.”

One of the bases of biodynamic winemaking is the use of horn manure (500) to build up fertility of the soil. Fresh cow manure is put into cow horns and buried in the ground for six months prior to the winter solstice.

Last year Gemtree separated itself from the usual biodynamic producers when they aged a single-vineyard shiraz in a wax-coated French oak barrel buried for eight months underneath the vines from which the winegrapes were grown. The wine was completely chemical free, with no sulphur added. Another barrel was buried for 18 months.

Mike says the result was an “absolute reflection of the place it comes from”, and he describes the drop as “broody, earthy and textual”.

A 15 minute drive away is fellow certified organic and biodynamic producer Paxton Wines, a family owned and run wine business that, like Gemtree Wines, farms without the use of synthetic fertilisers and fungicides.

Paxton Wines chief winemaker Richard Freebairn.

Operations manager Ben Paxton is son of highly respected viticulturist David Paxton and says his father was inspired to experiment with organic and biodynamic grapegrowing after attending a conference on the movement in 2004.

By 2005 the entire vineyard was converted to organic and biodynamic practices, before full certifications were achieved in 2011.

“We had a desire to increase grape quality, we wanted the vines to thrive naturally, have better balances of acidity, sugar and flavour,” Ben says. “The disease resistance increased dramatically, and the cell walls are thicker and stronger.”

The Browns and the Paxtons both believe consumers are increasingly wanting to know where their produce comes from and how it was made, and Jennifer Lynch of SAW agrees.

“If we look at who the core wine consumers are and our future consumers as well, it’s the millennials,” Jennifer says.

“The ethical and sustainable consciousness of these consumers continues to increase.”

Paxton Wines’ cellar door.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

Nominations now open for Ag Town of the Year Award

Think your town is an example of an outstanding agricultural community? Nominations for the inaugural South Australian Agricultural Town of the Year Award have now opened.

The new award will form a part of Brand South Australia’s 2019 Regional Showcase program and aims to highlight the vital role agriculture and other primary industries play in regional communities.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone is encouraging regional communities to get behind the award and nominate their town.

“The South Australian Agricultural Town of the Year Award is all about recognising and celebrating the role agriculture and other primary industries such as forestry and fisheries play in the economic and social fabric of our regional communities, and the innovation and diversity that come from these towns,” he says.

Town nominations close on February 15, 2019. An independent panel will assess the nominations before selecting the top five towns to be profiled here on Brand SA News.

The five stories will be published from April through to August and will also be shared across social media networks.

“We want to uncover and share stories of excellence in activities that have the underpinning goal of growing and promoting primary industries and driving regional development,” Mr Whetstone says.

Every year Brand SA News brings you a collection of Regional Showcase stories that share the tales of success of regional businesses, individuals and community groups going above and beyond in their region. With the separate Ag Town of the Year stories, we’ll be shining the spotlight on entire towns that are excelling in agricultural practices.

Brand South Australia CEO Karen Raffen welcomes the new addition to the Regional Showcase program.

“The Regional Showcase shares stories of regional success across our channels to demonstrate to the world how fantastic regional SA is and the Agricultural Town of the Year Award adds a new element to this,” she says.

“We’ll be delving deeper into the stories of entire towns that are excelling in their primary industries practices, and the impact this has on their communities and around the state.”

To access the award guidelines or to nominate, click here.

Regional Showcase stories are made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners

[logooos_saved id=”29687″]

[logooos_saved id=”34854″]

Old wine dogs show off some new tricks

How do reputable established wineries remain modern, and appear fresh to a new generation of wine drinkers?

The answer, for a growing number of canny South Australian wine producers, has been to create second labels that show off an entirely different side to their winemaking.

Tim Adams has benefitted greatly from starting a second label in Clare after he bought the former Leasingham winery in 2010, saving it from demolition, and recreating it as Mr Mick Wines.

He says this has presented him an opportunity to release a whole suite of new wines – embracing the new era of Mediterranean grape varieties that fascinate him, and employing techniques to provide sprightly, juicy wines without confusing his Tim Adams Wines customers who want sturdy classic wines from the Clare Valley.

Tim Adams Wines, Clare Valley. Photo by John Krüger.

“I was feeling incredibly frustrated to not be doing all the things I wanted to in making wine – and then it became clear that I needed this other wine brand to make it all possible,” says Tim.

“It wasn’t mapped out by design, but the Mr Mick story about being innovative and having fun with wine is truly authentic, and has worked.”

Tim has encouraged the creativity of young winemakers within his company, such as Brett Schutz, to employ fresh ideas. It has resulted in Mr Mick being embraced by a new generation of drinkers, taking out top honours in the Adelaide Review Hot 100 Wines in December 2016 with Novo Sangiovese.

This delicious fresh take on the savoury Italian grape, made in a drink-now style, underpins Tim’s philosophy of Mr Mick Wines being affordable wines for everyone to enjoy.

“We want people to try these new wines, to experiment, without having to pay a lot for them,” says Tim. “We want the exciting new drinking they find in Mr Mick Wines to represent fantastic value.”

Toby Barlow of St Hallett Wines in the Barossa Valley took a fresh approach and launched a new brand, Blockhead, under the St Hallett range.

St Hallett Wines is one of the Barossa’s champions of serious old vine shiraz, but Toby Barlow, director of the winery’s premium winemaking operations, knows there’s more than one way to make shiraz, which is the reason behind its new Blockhead by St Hallett range.

“I think we were in danger of being pigeon-holed as a wine brand confined to one style and one audience,” explains Toby. “We had to ask ourselves ‘How do we introduce ourselves to different customers?’ We took a completely fresh approach; a new brand name and look to the label, a deliberately modern wine style, at a more modest price.”

The result has been an immediate retail acceptance, convincing Toby there is room for more wines in the Blockhead range, possibly with blends involving grenache and touriga grapes.

In the Adelaide Hills, The Other Wine Co has emerged as a companion brand to Shaw + Smith Wines, presenting grape varieties and fruit from regions that fall outside of Shaw + Smith’s carefully curated brand.

Several strong minds and wills are central to this wine business. Owners Michael Hill Smith and Martin Shaw have a particular vision of what belongs within the limited range of Shaw + Smith wines.

However, senior winemaker Adam Wadewitz has ideas for unique wines that stretch far beyond what Shaw + Smith represents. So, rather than ignore or suppress these ideas, The Other Wine Co was born to present small batches of unique wines – old bush vine grenache from McLaren Vale, textural pinot gris from an elevated altitude
plot in Adelaide hills, and, still in barrel, is petit verdot from Kangaroo Island.

“We have the facility to look at so many interesting individual parcels of fruit, and we can react to them under the Other Wine Co label,” says Adam. “It’s very exciting for a winemaker, and it makes clear sense as a wine producer.”

McLaren Vale winemaker Ben Riggs says releasing a very different suite of wines without confusing the solid identity of his longstanding Mr Riggs label led to the recent launch of his companion label, Mr Bright Side.

The 2018 Mr Bright Side 2018 Preservative Free Shiraz.

Capturing bright, juicy fruit flavours within a distinctly fresh, modern style, the lively quartet of Mr Bright Side wines stand as a marked contrast to Mr Riggs’ more muscular and forceful wines.

It’s an important new market positioning statement for Ben, who was crowned a McLaren Vale Bushing King for his super-concentrated shiraz.

Mr Bright Side shows a very different portfolio, comprising a pale grenache rose, Adelaide Hills pinot gris, a preservative-free shiraz, and a lively red blend called Eurotrash, combining tempranillo, lagrein, grenache and petit verdot.

It answers critics who have intimated that Ben Riggs only makes one blockbuster style of wine. “I love making all styles of wines, and a lot of people forget that as a contract winemaker, I already make many wines in these styles for other people,” explains Ben.

Introducing another wine brand has allowed him to define and focus on specific strengths in his winemaking.

“It reinforced in my mind exactly what each of my wine brands should be, without compromising either. And while Mr Bright Side may seem like fun, smashable wines, it takes no less energy to make them. It only means I have to craft beautiful wines in a different way.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]

JamFactory a breeding ground for craft industry talents

For the past 45 years, South Australian craft institution JamFactory has built up an extraordinary pool of talent featuring some of the country’s finest artisans.

Set up in 1973 as an initiative of the Dunstan government to connect craft and industry to help grow the state’s economy, the not-for-profit organisation is about more than just showcasing bespoke pieces across glass, ceramics, furniture and metal design.

“Craft in its inherent sense is about respecting skills that have been around for a very long time, some are technology changers,” says JamFactory CEO Brian Parkes.

Ceramic artist and designer Ebony Heidenreich in the ceramics studio. Photo by Andre Castellucci.

“I meet with bureaucrats around the country who would love to replicate something like JamFactory but there isn’t the political wheel or budgetary bravado to produce anything like it, so it’s something that will be for a very long time, a great South Australian unique property.”

“There is nothing else like it in Australia and nothing quite like it in the world.”

JamFactory, located on Morphett Street in Adelaide’s West End and at Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley, features purpose-built ceramics, glass, furniture, and metal design studios.

It offers a place for artists and designers to hone their craft and access equipment and gallery space as well as further their skills in business.

A jewellery maker’s workspace. Photo by Andre Castellucci.

JamFactory’s glass studio is the largest open access glass studio in the southern hemisphere and has welcomed a number of elite craftspeople, including two of the country’s most renowned designer-makers, Clare Belfrage and Nick Mount.

JamFactory has enjoyed some “pretty stellar growth” in the last five years, with its turnover increasing and supported by a growing retail income.

The craft and design centre also houses exhibition and retail spaces that showcase not only SA artists, but high-quality contemporary designs from across the country.

“Our retail (income) last year grew 10%. This year after the first quarter it was 32% on the previous year. That’s pretty amazing stuff and that’s the interest in craft,” Brian says.

JamFactory’s Adelaide retail space. Photo by Andre Castellucci.

JamFactory also has an online retail store and between this and the two brick and mortar shops, more than 200 independent artists and designers are represented with total sales coming in at about $1.4 million.

JamFactory takes on a handful of emerging talented designers and makers from across the country who undertake the intensive two-year associate program. Associates take up space in one of the four studios and produce work with the potential of selling it in JamFactory’s stores.

The associate program was a launching success for ceramic artist Stephanie James-Manttan who began her journey with JamFactory in 2007/08.

Stephanie James-Manttan will head up the ceramics studio in early 2019.

Since completing the program she went on to continue her love for the pottery wheel and has since built a solid career in the local ceramics community.

In 2019 she will again take up a spot at JamFactory, taking over from Damon Moon as head of the ceramics studio, mentoring associates, undertaking research and development for commission projects, and ensuring the studio runs safely.

Stephanie’s work has been acquired by the Art Gallery of SA and the Department of Premier and Cabinet, while through her own practice she’s collaborated with clients including Well Made, Beaumont Tiles and the SA Department of Environment and Water, among others.

British actor Dev Patel – who stars in film Hotel Mumbai which was mostly shot in Adelaide – even bought one of Stephanie’s pieces through JamFactory’s shop.

Some of Stephanie’s works.

Stephanie crafts stonewear pieces such as mugs, teapots, travel cups and bowls, as well as bespoke ceramic bowls and vases with woven-like characteristics.

“Porcelain has a really beautiful quality about it, it’s a flesh-like quality, it’s translucent, it’s sexy, it’s sleek and it translates what I do so well,” she says.

“The way I squeeze into the clay, it affects the balance and the lightness of the work, it’s just a beautiful material to work with. It’s very fickle though, it will crack and it makes you stop and slow down.”

Stephanie says many of the skills practiced at JamFactory’s studios should be cherished.

“The things that we make here and the studios we have here … these are trades that are dying, we’re actually conserving the skills and the abilities required to make things out of the materials we work with,” she says.

“In this mass consumed world, people should be buying homemade things. They last longer which means less landfill.”

Stephanie commends SA’s training pathways in the craft sector, including TAFE SA and university courses that offer creative arts courses incorporating ceramic teachings.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

[logooos_saved id=”13411″]