Shavaughn Wells inducted as Baron of Barossa

Shavaughn Wells (Photo: John Kruger)

Saltram winemaker Shavaughn Wells has recently been inducted as a Baron of the Barossa. Membership of this wine fraternity is via invitation and extends to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the Barossa region of South Australia. It is a fitting tribute to a winemaker who has been dedicated to her craft for over 20 years.

The Barons of the Barossa were established in 1975 by a group of leading wine personnel. Their primary focus, then and now, is to is support Barossa wine, viticulture, gastronomy, the arts and heritage. They have established the Bruce Thiele Memorial Trust and the Barons Foundation, which support local community initiatives and research.

They also ‘declare the vintage’ on the third Sunday of February each year.

Membership is for life, and new Barons are welcomed in a colourful ceremony that involves adorning stately red robes and a wearing a tastevin around one’s neck.

Being a celebrated and passionate winemaker, Wells is more than deserving of this honour. Her first vintage was at Mildara in Merbein in 1997, followed by time in Coonawarra, the Yarra Valley and Limoux in France, before settling in the Barossa in 2003. She has proudly been with Saltram since 2005.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Wells in 2013 at the Adelaide Wine Show awards lunch, where she won the prize for ‘Winemaker of the Most Outstanding Red Wine in Show’ with the 2010 Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz.

Wells is also a Len Evans Scholar and was crowned ‘Winemaker of the Year’ by Winestate magazine in 2016. Wells, however, would not spout off about these accomplishments; she is a winemaker with great humility and instead, let’s her wines do the talking.

Working with a traditional brand like Saltram, one needs to be ever-mindful of heritage. That said, the red wines have been slowly modernised over the years, and now show more perfume and vibrancy than ever though still with the characteristic richness of which they are renowned.

Saltram is primarily known for shiraz with fruit sourced from many of the Barossa’s eastern ridge sites that are higher in elevation. Though Saltram’s success is not limited to reds. Wells recently collected two trophies at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show for the 2016 Saltram Winemaker’s Fiano, including for best white wine of show.

Not only does Wells love making wine, but she has also fallen for the Barossa in the fifteen years spent living there. In speaking with Wells in 2016, she remarked upon a commonality that exists between the people of the region. Because of the prominence of the wine industry across the valley, there is mutual understanding as everyone is connected. She spoke of the joy that came from working in a small, supportive community.

Wells joins an illustrious assembly of names including Maggie Beer, Prue and Stephen Henschke and the late Barossa personality Bob McLean. Other 2017 inductees were Julie and Cameron Ashmead (Elderton Wines), Rob Gibson (Gibson Wines) and Trevor March (Heathvale Vineyard).

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