The Barossa Valley is home to the world’s oldest Shiraz vines, and wineries like Yalumba, Australia’s largest and oldest family-owned winery, and the iconic Seppeltsfield which dates back to 1851 have made advancements that shaped what the wine region is today. But, what about the newer wineries coming into the region? While these older and experienced wineries have set the tone for what the Barossa Valley is today, what about its future?
The future of South Australia’s Barossa Valley is Yelland & Papps. As we drive onto their property, our car immersed in vibrant vines of Shiraz and Cabernet, I can already feel there’s something special about this place. As soon as my friends and I get out of the car, owners Susan and Michael Papps are at our sides to greet us.[pullquote]Our aim every vintage is to not over work the fruit, but to let the fruit shine [/pullquote]
The two started making wine in 2005, only producing varietals for themselves, family and friends. However, after only a few months the couple realized this was more than just a hobby, it was a passion. They soon found themselves moving out of their small home and moving to a larger space where they could really let the fruit and wine-making grow to its full potential, which they did in January of 2010.
“Our aim every vintage is to not over work the fruit, but to let the fruit shine,” explains Susan. “We aim to bring our vineyards into balance and harmony, to have very minimal intrusion and to be as organic as possible.”
Their sustainable approach becomes evident as soon as you walk into their cellar door. While the bar in the rustic space is made of boards off a 1927 Chevy truck, the winery uses recycled paper for all promotional and packaging requirements. Moreover, a wooden hutch handmade by Susan’s grandfather sits against the wall showcasing artisanal condiments and preserves from fruits grown on the property. My eyes go wide with desire as I scan labels advertising fig jam, tomato relish, mulberry jam, preserved lemons, lemon cordial and lemon curd. I’m also told I can purchase seasonal vegetables and herbs.
“What’s that delicious smell?” I ask Susan, catching a whiff of something hearty.
She points to a caldron. “We are currently selling fresh lentils from my father’s farm about two hours away.”
When I comment on how in touch with the land the space feels, Susan beams with pride.
“Being sustainable is what we truly believe in,” she says. “To be sustainable and to be more reliant on yourself than others, to know exactly where your food comes from and what is in it. For health, we believe in minimal interference with things that we eat and to be organic.”
It’s clear at Yelland & Papps they’re not afraid to do things differently and experiment. In fact it’s not only evident in their design and philosophy, but also in their wines. While 95% of their fruit comes from their own growers, they are the only Vermentino producer in the Barossa Valley to make Vermentino with 100% Barossa grapes.
“We like to use a minimalistic approach in our winemaking,” explains Susan. “It’s gentle with less interference as well as has respect for where the fruit comes from, what it is and how we enjoy it.”
Outside, a charming French picnic sits waiting among the vines to be paired with biodynamic wines. The meal consists of bread, cheese, jams, pork rillette, prosciutto and rich fruit-flavored jams.
The group is given a menu made of recycled paper telling us more about the vinos we’ll be sampling. Susan and Michael are in love with Grenache and Mataro, which they play around with in majority of their varietals. Their lines include Delight, Devote and Divine, with each differing in style. While the Delights are more affordable and are cheerful, easy-drinking wines, the Devotes focus on a single vineyard – the same vineyard every year – and on making a 100% single variety. Then there are the Divines, where the name pretty much says it all. The wines spend much longer in the barrel and bottle, and are made to be sexy and elegant. These wines are usually produced in extremely small volumes, as in only 700 bottles small.
Tasting the Delight series seems a perfect pair when having a picnic in the vines on a beautiful day. In particular, their 2011 “Delight Vin De Soif,” a Grenache, Mataro, Shiraz and Carignan blend, seems to work particularly well with the food. The red cherry aroma matches the wine’s color, and scents of plum, cranberry and redcurrant are also enjoyed. On my tongue, I taste the sweetness of gingerbread and raspberry as well as a spicy kick and a red licorice twist. It’s light body allows it to be easily sipped, while the broad range of flavors complement every morsel I put in my mouth.[pullquote]Our future is to grow ever so slightly so this becomes sustainable and viable, but we will always be a small winery. This way we still get to be involved in all aspects of the business and all the parts of the business we just love, like vintage and being hands on.[/pullquote]
Moving on to the Devote line, we all agree the 2010 “Devote Old Vine Grenache,” seems to compliment the food as well as highlight Susan and Michael’s love of the grape. Similar in flavor and aroma to the previous wine, it’s also got a bit more of a chocolate flavor while also being a bit more energetic. Looking around the wooden table, hidden behind giant glasses of Grenache and slices of bread topped with olives, cheddar and prosciutto, I can see big smiles on everyone’s faces. These natural pleasures are what life is all about.
So, as the future of the Barossa Valley, what are their plans?
“To become more sustainable each year and to experiment with different varieties that excite us,” responds Susan when asked. “Our future is to grow ever so slightly so this becomes sustainable and viable, but we will always be a small winery. This way we still get to be involved in all aspects of the business and all the parts of the business we just love, like vintage and being hands on.”
Yelland & Papps’ tastings room is open Monday, Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, as well as Tuesday & Sunday with an appointment. E-mail email@example.com or call 08 8562 3510/0408 250 005.
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