SA wine labels pour in heart of city

Internationally renowned brands and smaller boutique labels from 17 South Australian wine regions will gather in the heart of the city this weekend.

The Adelaide Convention Centre will host the annual Cellar Door Fest from March 15-17, giving visitors the opportunity to learn not only about the state’s winemaking talents, but also the hottest craft breweries, distilleries and premium produce on offer in SA.

“Cellar Door Fest is all about celebrating the best of SA and showcasing our state’s vibrant food and drink scene,” says Adelaide Convention Centre general manager Simon Burgess.

“We’re delighted to be celebrating the festival’s ninth year and the fact that the event has established itself as a permanent fixture on our state’s festival calendar.

“With so many of our state’s principal wineries in attendance, Cellar Door Fest continues to be a terrific illustration of SA’s global reputation as a Great Wine Capital of the World in addition to highlighting our state’s emerging craft beer and distillery producers.”

Thousands of wine lovers are expected to descend upon the Adelaide Convention Centre over three days for the 2019 Cellar Door Fest.

Festival highlights include two long table dining events, the Jacob’s Creek Long Table Dinner on March 15 and the NOLA New Orleans-inspired Long Table Lunch on March 16.

For those wanting to immerse themselves in the world of wine and gin blending, a series of masterclasses will unfold including a cheese and sparkling session (sold out), a gin blending session with Settlers Spirits, a pinor noir wine blending session with Tomich Wines, and a cheese and wine session with Sheree Sullivan of Udder Delights and wine educator Rhys Howlett.

The Great Wine Capitals (GWC) Discovery Space will explain how Adelaide, SA, is ranked alongside some of the world’s top wine regions in the Great Wine Capitals Global Network. GWC Best of Wine Tourism Award winners will be on hand for tastings and free masterclasses, including Chapel Hill Winery, Whistling Kite, Penfolds, d’Arenberg, Elderton, and Hentley Farm Wines.

Two long table dining events are among the festival highlights.

Wine lovers wanting to sample up-and-coming drops can head for the Emerging Winemakers Zone – introduced last year – to learn about a selection of labels that have been in the industry for three years or less. Emerging winemakers include Artis Wines, Auld Family Wines, Beklyn Wines, Blewitt Springs Wine Co, Dewey Station Wines, Eight at the Gate, Junnare Wines, Peter Teakle Wines, Peter Thompson Wines, Poppy the Frenchie, Saint & Scholar and The Hydropath Society.

Cellar Door Fest organisers say this year’s event is proud to highlight eco-friendly producers including those offering certified organic, biodynamic and vegan friendly products, as well as those who use sustainable packaging.

“We’re thrilled to be back and to once again provide a platform for SA producers to showcase their amazing wares and connect with consumers,” says Cellar Door Fest director Alex Bradford.

“Our team is proud to have assembled another fantastic program this year, including a great assortment of immersive experiences for guests to enjoy, from tastings to long table dining, masterclasses and live cooking demonstrations in Jessie’s Kitchen and the Wintulichs Beer Garden.”

Beer drinkers can visit the Wintulichs Beer Garden to taste a selection of local brews.

Jessie’s Kitchen will keep foodies satisfied with a series of free, live cooking demonstrations hosted by Adelaide food identity Jessie Spiby and other producers. Visitors inclined to sip on a fresh G&T will appreciate the popular Distillery District, showcasing many of the state’s emerging craft distilleries including Never Never Distilling Co, which took out the title for World’s Best Gin Classic at the World Gin Awards in London recently.

Beer drinkers can head for the Wintulichs Beer Garden to spot a showcase of top breweries and cidermakers. A new addition this year is the Dude Food stage, featuring a series of free lessons in grilling, smoking and searing meats. Burgers, tacos, hot dogs and sizzling steaks – we say no more.

To view the full Cellar Door Fest program and to purchase tickets visit the website.

What is a wine festival without a selection of local Brie cheeses to wash it all down.

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″]


Shiraz stamps the identity of gin from the Barossa

Australian craft gin producers have made their mark by embracing locally sourced botanicals as their defining flavours. For Seppeltsfield Road Distillers to create its own point of difference, this has meant taking a different route by embracing signature grape varieties of the neighbouring Barossa Valley wine industry.

When the boutique distilling company opened its doors to customers in late September 2018, its small range of gins included an unusual shiraz gin.

The husband and wife ownership team of distiller Nicole Durdin and general manager Jon Durdin considered that shiraz was a true Barossa flavour signature, so they went to revered boutique winemaker Dave Lehmann, proprietor of David Franz Wines, to forge a collaboration.

The Barossa Shiraz Gin.

Dave sourced about 400kg of handpicked shiraz from the Stonewell Cottages vineyard, macerating whole bunches of grapes in gin, which combined the rich plum and blackberry flavours of shiraz with subtle hints of juniper, orange and cinnamon.

It’s an idea borrowed from UK sloe gin production, but does not require any added sugar due to the intense, complete flavour profile of ripe Barossa shiraz.

Jon says Seppeltsfield Road Distillers initially considered this a small batch experiment, but its immediate popularity (900 bottles from the 2018 vintage sold out within eight weeks) set the Durdins to think this union of wine flavours and distillation was a winning concept that could be expanded.

Now, as grapes for the 2019 vintage are starting to be harvested, Seppeltsfield Road Distillers is not only planning a second batch of shiraz gin, but has also made available a second wine-accented gin, using semillon grapes – arguably the Barossa Valley’s signature white wine variety.

The Seppeltsfield Road Distillers team, Bec Henderson, left, Nicole Durdin, Jon Durdin and Scott McCarthy. Photo by John Krüger.

Sourced from Hamish Seabrook’s boutique Seabrook Winery at Vine Vale, outside Tanunda, the grapes were probably going to be left to rot on the vine, until the Durdins used them in a daring experiment, leaving the liquor to macerate on grape skins for eight weeks to extract maximum colour and flavour.

“It has such lovely, unique colour for a gin – like a beautiful barrel-aged fortified wine,” explains Jon. “And because of its sweetness from the lush semillon fruit, this gin is the most amazing cocktail ingredient.”

Interested tasters will need to make a hasty beeline for the distillery’s cellar door on Seppeltsfield Road, as only 700 bottles were produced and are selling briskly. Customer waiting lists are already being compiled for the 2019 shiraz and semillon gins, which are likely to be available from late June.

Barossa signatures attached to Seppeltsfield Road Distillery gins continue through the distinctive product labels and company logo, featuring the striking mandala artwork of Barossa artist Janelle Amos.

Seppeltsfield Road Distillers’ three house gins. Photo by John Krüger.

Having been smitten by her original works that involve arranging intricate circular patterns from various plants, fruits and food ingredients, the Durdins commissioned Janelle to create a mandala featuring the various ingredients of their signature gin.

This design has become the basis of all their gin labels, while the original photographic print of the fruit and botanicals mandala made by Janelle now hangs proudly behind the tasting bar at Seppeltsfield Road Distillers.

The appeal of these limited release gins is drawing huge numbers of people to the tasting room on Seppeltsfield Road, with an estimated 20,000 visitors in the business’s initial five months.

The business headquarters has embraced a striking architectural concept, using repurposed shipping containers clad in rich timbers to house the tasting rooms that flank a large glass-encased tower dominated by a tall German-built still.

It’s affectionately called Christine, in honour of Nicole’s forthright grandmother, taking on the mantle as the “hardest-working German lady in the Barossa” says Nicole.

The still and production process can be viewed through the glass frontage.

Having the gleaming still and production process in clear sight – even to motorists driving past the site – has proved an instant attraction, and has certainly enticed visitors to sit for a tutored tasting of the three house gin styles: Barossa Dry, which is a classic juniper style gin with pink peppercorns, lavender, and cornflowers; House Gin, which is a sweet and bright citrusy concoction that has been very appealing to self-confessed “non-gin fans”; and Savoury Allsorts, which uses star anise, licorice root and fresh thyme for a highly fragrant gin.

Seppeltsfield Road Distiller’s success has been underlined by a suite of international and national gin awards, but it has been a long road for the Durdins to reach this point.

Seventh-generation Barossan Nicole was previously a musician, playing the French horn in the SA Police Band, and later for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, travelling the world for performances, while Jon was a financial analyst who ended up in the UK steering a corporate acquisition by a UK defence company.

Their return to the Barossa – to specifically make gin in a high-profile location that would attract tourism attention – was always designed to make maximum impact, and their wine-influenced gins is a potent focal point of that attention.

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″]

Bottling the nation’s best gin

South Australia is aiming to become the gin capital of the nation as 27 craft distillers produce dozens of award-winning bottles and create their own industry association.

Last month, Adelaide was also host to the Australian Distillers Association conference with its finale event held at the Prohibition Liquor Company Tasting Room in Gilbert Street where its owners showcase gins from across the state.

“We serve 40 plus SA gins,” says co-owner Adam Carpenter, adding that the new state industry association also held its first event at the same venue in August.

“We’ve been trying to own the title of the gin state, there are more distillers in other states but they don’t work together as collaboratively as we do, that’s where we have a real strength.”

The Prohibition Liquor Company Tasting Room on Gilbert Street, Adelaide.

It’s been a rapid growth story for the SA industry and the Prohibition Liquor Company started by Adam Carpenter and Wes Heddles in 2015 has been riding the wave.

The two have a range of five core gins along the selection, including the Original and the 69% proof Bathtub Cut Gin – “1% higher and it’s officially a dangerous liquid” – both winning a swag of national and international awards.

Adam and Wes opened their tasting room and bar a year ago to showcase their own gins produced at Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills, along with 90 others from around Australia and the world.

They have educational gin tasting flights with many locally crafted brands rotating through the SA version. Adelaide Hills Distillery is in the mix at the moment, a clear sign of Adam and Wes’s commitment to supporting other craft distillers.

Their inclusion marks Adelaide Hills Distillery opening its own tasting and bar venue Lot 100 near Nairne this month. For Adam, it makes sense to work together to jointly promote the state’s rich offerings.

“SA logically is one of the best places in the world to produce gin, first of all most of us use grape-based spirit and we have access to some of the best in the world,” he says.

“Then we have that quality in the gin coming from the best botanical ingredients, some of the best Riverland citrus, we use Adelaide Hills lavender and there’s a whole range of bush ingredients.”

On the bush ingredient side, Something Wild and Adelaide Hills Distillery are making Australian Green Ant Gin with the unique bush tucker hand harvested in the Northern Territory by the Motlop family of the Larrakia people and the product handcrafted and bottled in the Adelaide Hills.

Ambleside Distillers in Hahndorf produces Kifaru Gin using native botanicals found at Monarto including mintbush and wattleseed – with money from bottles sold supporting threatened Southern White Rhinos.

Ambleside’s Kifaru Gin, in collaboration with Monarto Zoo.

While Kangaroo Island Spirits forages for native juniper on Kangaroo Island for its award-winning Native Gin, also using fresh limes from nearby Fleurieu Peninsula.

Some of those capitalising on the state’s top quality fruit include Rowland Short in McLaren Vale. He uses Japanese native yuzu being grown for the first time in the Riverland, bottling under the Settler’s Gin label.

And Twenty Third Street Distillery – owned by the Bickford’s Group and based in the old Renmano winery in Renmark – has created an award-winning Signature Gin with “tiny explosions of Riverland sunshine”, using local mandarin and lime.

It’s an industry daring to be different, and Prohibition Liquor Co is keen to continue being at the forefront. This month, the company is installing Adelaide CBD’s first functioning and visible distillery at its Gilbert Street venue.

The gin bar at Prohibition Liquor Co.

Red Hen Gin uses a copper column still for its London Dry Style gin in the city but it’s not on display. Adam says the new still will be used to make existing gins along with some new offerings crafted on site.

Prohibition Liquor Co gins are now distributed nationally through Dan Murphy’s stores along with other independent bottle shops, online and the business is exporting to New Zealand and Singapore.

Adam says the new year will see an even greater focus on expanding exports along with the two continuing to build strong relationships with other SA gin makers. Wes is treasurer for their new industry association.

“We were about the fifth on the market in SA when we started out, now there’s 27 or 28, it was all starting to emerge in 2015 but it’s just exploded in the last three years,”  he says.

“We have been working together well as an industry on an informal basis since about 2016 but as more and more emerge we are bringing them into the fold, we’re sharing the knowledge so everyone benefits.”

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″]

Sink or swim gin bid floats

You simply can’t bottle incredible South Australian experiences. Or can you?

Divers who plunge into the pristine depths of Kilsby Sinkhole in the Limestone Coast will soon be able to toast their adventurous spirits with a glass of Sinkhole Gin crafted from the limestone-filtered water.

Brothers Graham and Ben Kilsby are the sinkhole custodians taking immersive experiences to new levels in partnership with gin-loving friends Stuart Edwards and Kris Hamilton.

The Kilsby Sinkhole is world renowned as one of the best sinkhole diving spots. Photo by Ockert le Roux.

Long-term fans of home-brewing, the four mates saw an opportunity to create SA’s newest craft gin with a distinct local flavour.

“We thought how amazing it would be to use the water from the sinkhole – the purest water in Australia – to make the gin,” Ben says.

Tucked away on the farming property that has been in Ben’s family for four generations, the 65m-deep Kilsby Sinkole is rated among the world’s best cave-diving sites due to its exceptional water clarity.

The four men behind the Sinkhole Gin. Photo by Kate Hill.

Diversifying into eco-tourism was the first exciting move for the prime lamb producers, with up to 2000 visitors from around the globe now flocking to their property 15km out of Mt Gambier each year.

Now, they’re poised to make a splash in the drinks trade after 12 months of dedicated research.

“To a gin lover, the whole experience from aroma to palate is paramount and we got very involved in the whole process,” Ben says.

Designed to champion the Limestone Coast region, the gin takes its main flavour profile from muntries – a tiny native cranberry, or ‘emu apple’, which grows wild along the rugged coastline.

A bird’s eye view of the Kilsby Sinkhole. Photo by Ockert le Roux.

“It’s got a type of rhubarb-apple crumble flavour to it, and we’ve also added local honey, a little juniper, lime zest, lemon myrtle – we’ve got almost 20 ingredients each playing a role, and the result is something that is fresh and floral and unique to this region,” Ben says.

In order to guarantee future batch consistency, the Kilsbys have now planted a muntrie crop of their own surrounding the sinkhole. Yes – they’re thinking big, spurred on by Limestone Coast locals who immediately threw their support behind a sink or swim crowdfunding campaign on Pozible, raising close to $30,000 towards the venture.

“If the interest wasn’t there, we would have scrapped the idea, but the first batch has already been pre-sold and we’re expecting delivery prior to Christmas,” Ben says. “It’s going to be a really fun gin to put on the table.”

The Sinkhole Gin.

Pre-orders are now flowing for batch number two, with restaurants and bars also lining up for stock. A limoncello characterised by the bold, robust flavours of local farmhouse lemons is also in the pipeline, but the ultra-pure water will always be the hero ingredient.

“This is just a really fun way for us to be able to celebrate our natural attractions in a completely different way, to a completely new market,” Ben says.

“The Mt Gambier region is known worldwide in diving circles, but people as close as Adelaide don’t realise what assets we have beyond the Blue Lake, so we think this is the perfect pairing.”

Like this story? 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″]

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″]

Barossa Valley gin distilling dreams become reality

It took a career crisis and a curiosity for gin making for ex-policewoman and classical musician Nicole Durdin to turn to the world of distilling in the Barossa Valley.

Nicole and her husband Jon were living in the UK when a desire to move home and delve into something starkly different to their professions took over.

This weekend the South Australian pair will celebrate the opening of Seppeltsfield Road Distillers (SRD), the Barossa Valley’s first commercial distillery.

“We were in the UK for Jon’s work (as a finance director), and I went over as a freelance musician expecting that work would be easy to find ,but it didn’t quite turn out that way,” says head distiller Nicole, who also spent 10 years in the police force.

“I was having a career crisis and needed something to focus on … we knew that we would come back to the Barossa, that was our plan.”

Nicole, left, and Jon Durdin. Photo by John Krüger.

Nicole, a French horn player with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, is a seventh-generation Barossa local whose ancestors were among the first to settle in the Barossa Valley.

Her great-grandfather was one of the first coopers at Seppeltsfield, while her grandfather, uncle and father are all involved in the wine industry.

Nicole says she and her husband had toyed with the idea of falling into the wine industry, “but didn’t want to be tied down to the seasonality”.

So they put the idea on the back-burner, heading to the UK.

One day Jon suddenly flagged the idea of gin making – and the pair were hooked.

“Jon just said to me, ‘why don’t you make gin?’ It just came out of his mouth,” Nicole says.

“We knew nothing about gin other than we liked to drink it. But I started doing some research. The industry in Australia was still really small at that stage, and over 12 months we planned and studied.”

Nicole then flew back to SA from the UK to look at a block of land, turning their distant Barossa dreams into reality.

Seppeltsfield Road Distillers will open in the Barossa Valley in September. Photo by John Krüger.

The pair now live in Tanunda, with their small-batch boutique distillery at home along the palm-tree lined Seppeltsfield Road.

Visitors to SRD are first greeted by the sight of the German-made still where all the magic happens.

“The first thing you see when you arrive on site is the still. Being in the Barossa, people love the idea of knowing how things are made,” Nicole says.

“Our first goal is just to make really good gin, but we also want to help educate people on how gin is made, so we’d like to include tours and gin-blending masterclasses.”

SRD has launched a trio of gins made with a range of botanicals sourced from the Barossa where possible.

The distillery uses a grape spirit base from the Barossa Valley’s Tarac Technologies, Australia’s largest producer of high-quality grape spirit.

Botanicals including pink pepper corn and lavender are sourced from as close as down the road.

First up is the Barossa Dry, “a take on the traditional London Dry Gin” with clean juniper and coriander notes and a pinch of peppercorn and lavender.

Photo by John Krüger.

The Savoury Allsorts features star anise, liquorice root, fresh thyme, marjoram, borage, and gentian.

The House Gin is recommended for drinkers not quite sold on the taste of gin, as it has subtler hints of juniper, while chamomile, lavender and cinnamon add sweetness and warmth.

The gins have already scooped a number of awards, including the House Gin which won silver and the Barossa Gin which won bronze at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London.

The House Gin has also been awarded a gold medal at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition.

SRD will make its public debut at a sold out gin blending class as part of the Barossa Gourmet Weekend on September 1.

On September 2 SRD will set up a pop-up gin bar for the ‘Gin & Jams’ event at The Greenock.

Visitors can explore SRD from September 3. Check the website for opening hours.

Header photo features tasting room manager Bec Henderson, left, gin distiller Nicole Durdin, general manager Jon Durdin and brand ambassador Scott McCarthy.

Like this story? 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″]

Family-owned distillery lures gin lovers to Hahndorf

An Adelaide Hills family’s curiosity for the world of gin making has led to the establishment of Hahndorf’s first distillery.

Steve, Trudy and son Matt Dickson are behind Hahndorf tasting room and small-batch distillery, Ambleside Distillers, which is already quenching thirsts around town.

All three family members come from different industries, with Matt in construction, Trudy running a recruitment agency and Steve holding 35 years of experience in the health sector.

But it was a six-month trip to the UK that opened Matt’s eyes to the world of gin making, prompting the family to have a shot at launching a distillery and tasting room.

Matt Dickson was inspired to explore gin making after time spent in the UK.

“There was this whole gin revival in London and it wasn’t just about the standard London dry gin, I experienced many boutique gins and just fell in love with it,” Matt says.

“Mum and Dad also visited the UK and when we were back in Australia we introduced ourselves to many of the boutique gins, made with really good tonic water and garnishes.

“For us it was about creating gins we loved and that were of a very high quality and taste that hopefully many others would enjoy.”

With Matt’s experience in the construction industry, the Dicksons built the tasting room and distillery on the family’s property on the corner of Mount Barker and Ambleside roads.

Ambleside has three signature gin styles, crafted on site.

The tasting room’s fit out is simple and modern, incorporating textures such as brickwork and timber.

Crafted and hand-bottled on site are three signature styles, the Big Dry Gin, No. 8 Botanical Gin and Small Acre Gin.

Ambleside Distillers grows some of the botanicals on the property, including thyme and rosemary, while other flavours including jalapeno and citrus are sourced locally where possible.

Matt says that while wine is one of South Australia’s most dominant industries, the family wanted to get in on the state’s blossoming spirit scene.

Platters featuring local produce can be enjoyed with a gin cocktail, overlooking Hahndorf’s rural landscape.

He says the Adelaide Hills region was also cementing itself as one of the premier food and wine areas on offer to visitors.

“Each of the regions is really booming and the Hills is really coming into its own,” Matt says.

“We wanted to get in line with the other businesses in Hahndorf, because if you’re planning a trip to the Adelaide Hills, Hahndorf is where you want to be headed.

“This was an opportunity for us to become a part of a different section of the food and beverage industry, not just wine.”

Steve says the state’s distilling scene had welcomed the Ambleside operation with open arms.

“We’ve had four different distillers visit us and say ‘welcome to the family, it’s good to have you on board’,” he says.

Ambleside Distillers offers platters featuring local cheeses and produce that can be enjoyed on the deck.

Curious about how it all works? The distilling equipment is in view from the tasting room.

Ambleside Distillers is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am–6pm.

[mappress mapid=”224″]

Like this story? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners[logooos_saved id=”17589″]Major Media Partner[logooos_saved id=”5506″]

Barossa barrel-aged gin released

A barrel-aged gin with whisky-like toffee and caramel characters is being launched in Australia’s most famous wine region – the Barossa Valley.

The Barossa Distilling Company is releasing a limited edition gin, which has spent seven months in tawny port barrels.

It is the company’s third gin following the release of the Generations Gin in 2016 and its Budburst pink gin later that year.

The barrels originally held Barossa red wine and then spent eight years ageing Tawny Port before being cut down to 100 litres at a local cooper, oak charred to a crocodile char and filled with Generations Gin.

The same style barrels were also sourced to make the company’s first whisky, which is still at least 12 months away from release.

Barossa Distilling managing director Neil Bullock says the gin was barrel-aged in the same way as whisky is traditionally matured.

“Back in the old days they would store the gin in an oak barrel in a ship’s ballast and effectively by the time it got to its destination it would have been barrel aged, depending on how far the journey was,” he says.

“It’s confusing to the palate in a way because it’s got a little bit of a whisky characteristic – it’s very much a gin but it sits somewhere between the two in terms of the flavour profile it’s delivering and you get those toffee and honey characteristics that you would find in a Speyside style sherry or port cask finished whisky.

“It’s a cracking sipping gin, over ice it’s just beautiful but we have tried it here with a splash of dry ginger ale and a bit of fresh lime squeezed over the glass.”

The 40 per cent abv Barrel-Aged Gin is $125 for a 700ml bottle and is available through the Barossa Distilling Company website or at its cellar door in the Old Penfolds Distillery building in Nuriootpa.

“I took a bottle out a few weeks ago and we’ve been doing tastings of it over the bar here and 100% of the feedback has been ‘wow, that’s incredible’ so we’re quite excited to get it out,” Neil says.

Gin is the star attractions at “The Distillery”, the tasting room and craft spirits bar the company opened permanently in the iconic distillery in August.

The original Penfolds distillery was built in 1913 and for almost a century produced brandy and fortified wines for one of Australia’s most famous wineries.

Neil says the rooms, featuring old stills, 10m-high ceilings and an original cast iron spiral staircase, provide the ideal setting for people wanting an alternative to wine.

“Once people have done their wine tasting they’re very keen for a bit of a palate cleanser and something a little bit different. They can walk in here and try our spirits or simply sit down to enjoy a cocktail or a gin and tonic,” he says.

“People walk in through the doors and they stop about a metre inside the building and say ‘oh wow’ because it is a magnificent space.”

The Distillery is open seven days, 11am–5pm Sunday to Thursday and 11am–8pm Friday and Saturday. It also serves local beers, artisan Barossa wines, tasting platters and a range of other local and imported spirits.

Header image: Martin Ritzmann.

[mappress mapid=”212″]

Like this story? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners[logooos_saved id=”17589″]Major Media Partner[logooos_saved id=”5506″]

Carters create wine and gin with a difference

By Melissa Keogh

Adelaide Hills couple Brendan and Laura Carter have pursued a life of passion for quenching thirsts and satisfying even the most cultured of gin drinkers and wine sippers.

Aside from creating some of the most adventurous drops to hit South Australia’s craft beverage scene, the pair is helping maintain the spirits of grape growers across the region.

The Carters run Australia’s only remaining grape-grower’s co-operative label, Harvest, allowing local growers to improve returns on their crops during poor harvests.

Any grower within a 5km radius can deliver their grapes “rain, hail or shine”.

“If we’re in a disease-driven year then we just have to work harder to make bloody good wine,” Brendan says.

“If it doesn’t work out we can still pay them for the grapes and move them to the distillery and turn it into coffee liqueur.”

Laura, 26, and Brendan, 27, are leading South Australia's innovative distilling scene.

Laura, 26, and Brendan, 27, are leading South Australia’s innovative distilling scene.

Operating all their ventures from a 1920s cold stores in Gumeracha, Brendan, 27, and Laura, 26, are also behind Ochre Nation bar, wine label Unico Zelo, and Applewood Distillery.

From Ochre Nation the Carters use native ingredients to create premium, sustainable beverages made from fruit varieties that require minimum irrigation and intervention.

Earlier this year Applewood had foodies in a spin with the limited release of a gin infused with native green ants.

Another big hit has been the Økar, an aperitif made from riberries which are a tart, indigenous fruit.

Whether it’s ant-infused gin or using native jarrah to mature wine and whisky, the distilling duo have set out to create “the most Australian businesses possible”.

Break down their business model and it’s quite simple – just use what you’ve got.

When most winemakers would sob into their oak barrels over a smoke-tainted harvest, the Carters lift spirits by turning it into coffee liqueur.

When a 150-year-old orchard in Montacute Valley spits out a crop of “ugly” disfigured lemons that would otherwise go to waste, the Carters turn it into limoncello.

This waste-not-want-not ethos has led the Carters to be leaders of the beverage game and walking encyclopedias of their industry.

Applewood, Harvest and Unico Zelo products are produced at Gumeracha.

Applewood, Harvest and Unico Zelo products are produced at Gumeracha.

Aside from passion, the pair also has an unwavering commitment to South Australia and say their success would have been impossible to achieve elsewhere.

“SA has such a close proximity to quality produce that it really allows primary producers and value-adding enterprises to thrive,” Brendan says.

“Not to mention the sheer sense of camaraderie that binds all the producers together.”

Both were born in the eastern states but studied in Adelaide – Brendan winemaking and Laura agriculture.

“We have one of the best winemaking colleges in the world,” Brendan says.

“We churn out some of the most amazingly talented winemakers globally.”

Applewood gin makes the most of native Australian botanicals.

Applewood gin makes the most of native Australian botanicals.

The Carters are predicting a boom in state’s craft beverage industry.

“I think it’s entirely reasonable to think that SA (beverage industry), in particular the distilling industry, could quite realistically steamroll the global industry in the next 20 years,” Brendan says.

“With the right management and the right assistance, for sure.”

Like this story? Nominate a story from your region.
Click here to nominate >>

These inspiring regional stories made possible by:

Major Partner[logooos_saved id=”5491″]Program Partners[logooos_saved id=”17589″]Major Media Partner[logooos_saved id=”5506″]

McLaren Vale Distillery follows the wine to whisky trail

By Melissa Keogh

Whisky aficionado John Rochfort always knew there was something special about South Australia.

While producing fine malt whisky in Tasmania – Australia’s whisky capital – the former chef says his home state continued to be praised within craft industry circles.

“Every time an award was won it was won with SA (wine) casks and SA grain and it was getting to me,” he says.

“I was determined to come back.”

After running the ship at Tasmania’s Lark Distillery – a pioneering company in the Australian whisky industry – John returned home and launched the McLaren Vale Distillery.

The McLaren Vale Distillery team are committed to producing top shelf, premium whisky.

The McLaren Vale Distillery team is committed to producing top shelf, premium whisky.

John says SA’s high quality barley, wine barrels and clean water supply made it an ideal base for a craft distillery.

Two years later, the business is setting the bar for not only whisky producing in SA, but across the country.

Earlier this month McLaren Vale Distillery took two major awards at the inaugural Whiskies and Spirits Conference in Adelaide.

Some of the world’s finest whisky makers were in town for the event – a first for the southern hemisphere.

“I’m proud to be South Australian after the other night – and I always was – but to take that leap of faith to leave Tasmania and do something here and have it pay off, it’s been great,” John says.

About 40km from Adelaide, McLaren Vale Distillery is run by the Rochfort family and business partner Jock Harvey.

Its single malt whiskies are aged in ex-fortified wine barrels sourced from 20 vignerons across McLaren Vale and the Barossa.

Some of the barrels have previously held premium Century-old wines.

The barrels impart their flavours on the maturing whisky and John says this means a port cask is likely to create a deep red colour, while a sherry cask will infuse floral notes.

While Tasmanian and Scottish whisky makers also rely on the wine industry for their craft, John says his distillery makes the most of the wine barrels’ flavours.

The whisky matures in ex-fortified wine barrels from top winemakers across the region.

The whisky matures in ex-fortified wine barrels from top winemakers across the region.

“The standard process in Scotland and Tasmania is when those casks arrive to the distillery they fill it with water to expand the wood because they don’t want their spirit to leak everywhere,” he says.

“As an ex-chef I would just watch the crimson, red or gold water flow out of these casks and think that is the best flavour you guys have got.

“The flavours we were getting in the first 10-20 days … were flavours and aromas we weren’t getting in two or three years in Tasmania.”

John says whisky making is a hard slog requiring patience and dedication, with his distillery’s first batch of single malt whiskys due for release in 2018.

“It’s not like being a chef where the meal is ready in 20-30 minutes,” he says.

“It’s five or six years before you see the product, so when you gain notoriety it means so much.”

However, the Bloodstone Collection, a limited series of 20 collaborations between McLaren Vale Distillery and SA winemakers, is a preview release and has already proved popular.