Trent Burge does his own wine thing
What do you do when your dad is as famous as Grant Burge and has sold his name to another company? Grant can’t use his name for any future wine venture, nor can his family. The Grant Burge brand is now owned by Accolade Wines, producer of Hardy’s, Arras, Houghton, St Hallett, Petaluma and much else.Trent has no formal education in wine science but was ‘schooled in the region’, working for six vintages in the family cellars.
But Trent Burge wanted to do his own wine thing, and his solution was to name his brand Barossa Boy. With its distinctive diamond-shaped crossword-style logo, Barossa Boy has been on the market for exactly one year.
Trent has no formal education in wine science but was ‘schooled in the region’, working for six vintages in the family cellars. Latterly he was in charge of production planning and promotions for the Grant Burge brand, and is now general manager of the various family businesses.
The family owns a massive 500 hectares of vineyards in the Barossa and Eden Valleys. Most of the grapes are sold to other winemakers.
Trent makes his wines at the Burge family’s Illaparra winery in Tanunda, which was once Basedow’s, and indeed the Basedow family still lease the cellar door there. The premium Grant Burge wines are still made at Illaparra for Accolade, for the time being. Barossa Boy doesn’t have a cellar door at this stage, and few retailers: sales are mostly online. Trent’s wife Jessica is a social media professional and is building a client list and a highly visual online presence, using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and a website.
Being a Burge is a two-edged sword. Trent is a sixth generation winemaker, but he can’t use that famous surname. He’s not interested in selling to the supermarkets or being a broad-based wine producer, at least at this early stage. His wines are small-production and not cheap. They’re a hand-sell.
At present, there are just four wines in the range, all reds. Little Tacker (AUD $30) is a GSM: fun, fruity, frivolous and a memory of his days as Grant and Helen’s bicycle-pedalling little tacker, as depicted on the label.
Double Trouble (AUD $30) is a Barossa and Eden Valley shiraz cabernet, a blend of regions and varieties, which is also about Trent’s earlier double-life as a cricketer and footballer. He was good enough at cricket to spend a couple of seasons in England, where he played for Mistley in 2007-8, a team based in England’s supposedly smallest town, Manningtree, Essex. Trent is an all-rounder, these days concentrating on batting, and still plays cricket for a Lyndoch team and football for a Tanunda side.
Young Wisdom (AUD $50) is his mataro, a grape that is having a resurgence in the Barossa.
“Shiraz is the famous wine that everyone knows, but mataro is the backbone of the Barossa. It has structure.”
The name evokes the gnarled old mataro vines that Trent thought were impossibly ancient when he was a kid, but they’re still steadfastly producing fruit as he begins to raise his own family.
Lifeblood (AUD $80) is the new release, just debuting at the end of this month. It’s cheerfully described as a blockbuster. It’s Trent’s tribute to the signature variety of his home soil.
“Crafted only from vintages of exceptional promise, this is a love letter to region, variety and home.”
It’s a single vineyard wine, from a Gomersal Road vineyard near Tanunda that was owned by a syndicate including Trent’s godfather, the late Bruce Thiele, a highly regarded member of the community.
Lifeblood is about the history and traditions of the Barossa, the people past and present, the land and the family’s six-generation bloodline, which began with John Burge in 1855.
Trent recalls pulling an old bottle of Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz from his cellar recently, a wine his father named after his great-great-great-grandfather, who lived for 99 years and nine months.
All the Barossa Boy wines are from the 2016 vintage. In time, Trent will add a riesling and chardonnay to the range, both from Eden Valley, where the family owns the Corryton Park vineyard.
“It’s not enough to just have good wine these days, you’ve got to also have a story to tell,” he says. “People want to know something about the wine.”