USA seminar focuses on Barossa wine families

(L-R) Chris Ringland, Russell Johnstone, Michael Twelftree, Adrian Hoffmann, Paul Heinicke, Chuck Hayward. (Photo: Chuck Hayward)

Sixth generation Barossa grape-grower Adrian Hoffmann was the focal point at the recent Hospice du Rhône celebration in California’s Paso Robles.

Hoffmann was accompanied by four winemakers who buy his grapes: Chris Ringland of Ringland Vintners, Michael Twelftree of Two Hands and Twelftree Wines, Paul Heinicke of Soul Growers, and Russell Johnstone of RBJ. They showed off their wines to more than 350 attendees at the 22nd biennial Hospice du Rhône, an event dedicated to promoting Rhône Valley grape varieties.

The seminar was organised and anchored by Chuck Hayward, a leading American expert on Australian wines. Hayward’s brainwave was to focus on the multi-generational Barossa wine families, of whom he estimates there are still about 80 fifth or sixth generation families still working the land.

Hayward said:

“The goal of the seminar was to show the Barossa in a new light. Wine is made by people, by families. A number of German families fled religious persecution in the middle of the 19th century and ended up in a strange and wonderful land to make new lives for themselves. They built farms, grew grapes, made wine and built an industry that allowed the Barossa Valley to become one of the world’s most acclaimed growing regions.

“Today, there are some 80 or so of these family growers left in the Barossa… They represent the summation of a distinct and unique wine culture that has been preserved by diligence and effort but suffers from the same challenges that affect all winemaking families.”

Hoffmann, whose vineyard is in the Ebenezer subregion, said he felt the seminar was,

“very well received, and even though we have a lot of follow-up work to really capitalise on the work already done, I think we have done ourselves, the Barossa and our country proud.”

After a video, and an introduction from Hayward, each winemaker spoke about the Hoffmann wines they were pouring, and answered questions from Hayward about the wines and the way they related to the Hoffmann vineyard.

Ringland showed his 2012 Dimchurch Shiraz and 2007 Hoffmann Vineyard Shiraz. Twelftree showed his 2015 Twelftree Sturt Road Grenache, 2016 Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz and 2010 Two Hands Ares Shiraz. Heinicke showed an unreleased mataro and a 2016 shiraz from a 100-year-old parcel of Hoffmann’s vineyard.

“The Hoffmann story highlights the depth and history of winemaking in the Barossa Valley as well as the shared goal of producing the highest quality wine from a generational vineyard. The relationship between grower and winemaker is an essential part of the Barossa story and it clearly resonated with the audience,” Heinicke said.

Hayward said the goal of the seminar was to show the Barossa in a new light.

“The Barossa is more than just numbers and lines on a map. It is a living and breathing wine culture, shaped by people, from yesterday to today, that is unique in the world of wine.”

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