It’s that magical time of year at Grace Farm, when the vines are starting to flower and the shoots enter a phase of rapid growth. Meanwhile, on both sides of the country, spring has brought a burst of good news and recognition for the wine.
To celebrate its growing reputation, the small Wilyabrup producer has opened its gates for tastings by appointment. “Understanding where the vines grow and how they are tended adds a new dimension to drinking the wine,” says owner John Mair.
Grace Farm has just won the Superstik Trophy for the best white blend at the Qantas Wine Show of Western Australia with its 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. In the same week its 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon won gold at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards, where judges gave it 96 points and shortlisted it for the trophy for best Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines had already won gold at the Perth Royal Wine Show 2014.
Grace Farm’s viticulturist Tim Quinlan attributes the wine’s success to a combination of close observation of the vineyard’s five blocks and experimentation. “After a few years, our knowledge of the blocks is allowing us to tend each parcel of land in a way that reflects the ultimate expression of each grape variety,” he says.
Tim says that the 2014 SBS, in particular, is the end result of four years of experimenting with canopy light exposure, picking dates and fruit ripeness. “And on top of that are skilled winemaking decisions which include oak seasoning, co-fermentation of both varieties and reliance on wild yeasts to complete certain stages of the process.”
In June the 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon won gold at the Boutique Wine Awards in Sydney. It was this wine that led James Halliday to comment, in his 2015 wine guide, “It’s an uncompromising style of wine”.
“Uncompromising” is also the word John and Elizabeth Mair use to describe Tim Quinlan and winemaker Jonathan Mettam.
“Tim and Jono are an incredible duo,” says John Mair. “They are passionate about what they do. Their attention to detail is remarkable and they strive to bring unique wines to the table.”
Tim’s meticulous and unrelenting care of the vines is evident when walking around the vineyard. Spend time with him at any moment during the year and you discover what gives Grace Farm wines their edge, John Mair adds.
For this reason Grace Farm has obtained a licence to hold tastings by appointment on the property, offering the public the chance to visit.
“We foresee that tastings by appointment will give visitors an authentic insight into the site and cultivation of the vines. They will also offer a vertical tasting in Tim’s company. A kind of tasting on location,” says John Mair.