BIG companies – Accolade, Casella, Treasury Wine Estates, Pernod Ricard and Australian Vintage Ltd – dominate Australian wine production.
The latest available statistics from 2015 show Accolade, with 284,636 tonnes, Casella, with 179,805, and Treasury, with 165,621, as the top three grape crushers.
With their huge array of brands, the industry giants dominate bottle shop shelf space but that shouldn’t allow us to ignore smaller players who give the Australian scene such unique richness, character and diversity.
These three beautiful wines are perfect examples. The Moss Wood 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is at mosswood.com.au and fine wine stores, the Shaw and Smith 2015 M3 Chardonnay at shawandsmith.com and wine stores and the Meerea Park 2013 Old Vine Shiraz is at meereapark.com.au and the cellar door on the corner of Broke and McDonalds roads, Pokolbin.
Shaw and Smith is the Adelaide Hills venture created after a long lunch in 1989 by Martin Shaw and his cousin Michael Hill Smith. Martin Shaw is a Roseworthy-trained winemaker who worked for eight years at Brian Croser's Petaluma winery and made wine in Chile, France, New Zealand, Italy and Spain. He works in collaboration with winemaker Adam Wadewitz, who was joint dux of the 2009 Len Evans Tutorial at Pokolbin.
Master of Wine, senior wine judge, consultant, writer and broadcaster Michael Hill Smith comes from a family that founded the Barossa Yalumba wine company in 1849.
In 2011 the cousins added the fine Tolpuddle vineyard in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley to their Shaw and Smith portfolio.
Moss Wood is in Margaret River’s northern sub-region of Wilyabrup and is one of region’s earliest wine ventures. It was founded in 1969 by medico Dr Bill Pannell and wife Sandra, who in 1979 recruited McLaren Vale-bred Roseworthy graduate and avid surfer Keith Mugford as their winemaker and viticulturist.
When the Pannells retired in 1984, they sold the business to Keith and his wife Clare, who have established Moss Wood as one of Australia’s finest boutique wine producers, with a James Halliday five red stars rating.
The Hunter’s Meerea Park operation revives the family wine heritage of Alexander Munro, a Patrick Plains district pioneer, the first Mayor of Singleton and the founder in 1846 of the Bebeah vineyard at Singleton, once NSW’s biggest wine producer.
Munro’s great, great grandsons, winemaker Rhys Eather and managing director Garth Eather, have built the Pokolbin-based Meerea Park into one of the Hunter most exciting and innovative wine ventures.