It pains me to admit this, but if I'm being completely honest, this is what we've learnt: parents really do know best.
Among other things, of course. But when John and Arda Barry – our much-loved parents, grandparents and winery founders – planted Mount Avoca's first vines in 1970, they began with shiraz and cabernet sauvignon then added chardonnay and sauvignon blanc shortly after. It's safe to say they knew what they were doing because here we are, 50 years later, back focusing on those same wines.
It has taken me 30 years to get back to my parents' original thing, which was '100% grown, made & bottled'. As a winery, we had to go through all these different experiments to work out what we actually wanted to do. We tried heaps of different stuff, then went organic, and now we're back to that original 'thing' with a slight tweak – 100% organic, grown, made & bottled. A nice little improvement, don't you think?
When Mount Avoca began it was the 19th vineyard in Victoria; now, there are over 600. But even though we're one of the oldest, we're always trying to improve and become more and more self-sufficient. Very few small wineries are able to bottle their own wine, while many wineries don't even have a vineyard, with their grapes being trucked in from all over the place. A lot of people don't realise how unusual it is to have the vineyard, the winery, the bottling and everything on site, but it's something we're incredibly proud of.
We may have come full circle back to those original Estate wines, but we've picked up plenty of knowledge along the way, resulting in Mount Avoca becoming certified as fully organic in 2016. We like to think of it as becoming 'accidentally organic' by treating our vineyard like our backyard, which I suppose it really is.
I went to an organic tasting in the 2000s and all the wines had this liveliness and zest and I knew that I wanted the same character in our wines. So we started chasing the kind of quality and life that you get with wines that have been made by people who care about fruit and the land. We weren't chasing the certificate, we were chasing the quality; we went down this rabbit-hole and by the time we found the quality, we were already 98% organic, so we decided to make it official.
And speaking of official, we're all excited here to hit our 50th anniversary. There's no doubt that 2020 has been a strange year, but we're thankful to have something to truly celebrate despite having to postpone the parties. There'll be plenty of time for those celebrations next year; for now, we just can't wait to see you all at the cellar door again.
Until then – here's to 50 more!