Barossa Valley, Australia
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Yalumba was founded in 1849 by Samuel Smith, British migrant and English brewer, who had brought his family to Angaston seeking a new life. After purchasing a 30-acre parcel of land just beyond the southern-eastern boundary of Angaston, Smith and his son began planting the first vines by moonlight. Samuel named his patch “Yalumba” – aboriginal for “all the land around”.
Six generations and more than 150 years later Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family owned winery, has grown in size and stature, embodying all that has made the Australian wine success story the envy of winemakers the world over.
Yalumba wines have a style all of their own and each have been influenced by a diverse range of elements – elements Yalumba likes to call ‘the controllables’, such as the Yalumba Vine Nursery and on-site cooperage – as well as other factors that cannot be emulated by any other winery – Yalumba’s history and tradition combined with a reputation for innovation.
Brian Walsh – Director of Winemaking
Brian moved to the Barossa in 1988 and joined the Yalumba Wine Company as Chief Winemaker. In 1996, Brian was appointed to the Yalumba Board of Directors. As Director of Winemaking, Brian is responsible for the viticultural, winemaking and production aspects of the wines of Yalumba, as well as the Hill Smith family’s individual vineyard wines.
In 2002 Brian was a finalist for the Qantas / Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year
Alan Hoey – Chief Winemaker
Alan joined the Yalumba team in 1980. As Chief Winemaker, Alan guides Yalumba’s team of winemakers. “Quality winemaking practices are a continuously evolving process at Yalumba. Our commitment to winemaking, style, individuality and quality remains our focus. Our winemakers through their intimate knowledge of, and influence in, our vineyards have now shifted the starting point of winemaking to the selection of specific vineyard sections and vine pruning decisions.”
The crafting of oak barrels is a proud tradition at Yalumba with a coopering history dating back to the turn of the 20th century. With its own on-site cooperage, Yalumba is the only winery in Australia, and one of a small and select group of wineries in the world, to enjoy this privilege. Oak plays an important part in the winemaking process and Yalumba have the advantage of being able to have full control of the quality of oak used to age their wines.
Yalumba imports oak staves from the world’s best oak forests in France and America, and then air-dries the oak for many Barossan summers and winters to leach any sappy, bitter characters from the wood. This extended seasoning (as opposed to the more common practice of seasoning the oak for between 18 months and 2 years) imparts rich chocolate mocha characters and adds yet another layer of texture to the wine without masking the fruit flavours.
Once seasoned, the oak is delivered into the hands of the Yalumba coopers to be fashioned into barrels. After being carefully cut and manipulated into shape, the cooper then fires the barrels to toast the wood. Yalumba prefers a light-to-medium toast as highly toasted barrels can have a negative impact on the structure and texture of the wines.
Unique to Yalumba is the 90-litre octaves that are made especially for their premium Old Vine Barossa Shiraz, appropriately named “The Octavius”. The term “octave” is thought to have been coined by early coopers to describe a barrel an eighth of the size of a standard cask. For a small barrel like the Yalumba octave, one would expect the oak contact to almost over-power the wine. Yalumba has found however, that with its extended oak seasoning together with careful grape/wine selection, two years in an octave does not result in extensive oakiness – just wonderful richness and complexity.