Vineyard & Winery
633 Carapooee Rd
Carapooee Vic 3478
633 Carapooee Rd
Carapooee Vic 3478

T: 61 3 5496 3220
F: 61 3 8610 1621

Cellar door open
by appointment only.


W I N E  - M A X  A L L E N
The Australian Magazine  January 29 - 30 2000

Hidden treasures
From obscure Berrys Bridge, big things come.

Sometimes you have to travel halfway across the country to discover something wonderful in your own backyard. There I was, late last year, scrabbling around in the glorious clutter of East End Cellars in Adelaide, passing time before my flight home to
Melbourne, when I stumbled across this box marked Berrys Bridge. "Whassthis, then?" I muttered to myself. It was a new shiraz from the Pyrenees wine region, in western Victoria. Berrys who? Never 'eard of 'em.

A couple of weeks later and I'm staring into a glass of pretty impressive purple liquid, thinking to myself, "Gee, this is good." It turns out that there is a 1998 cabernet sauvignon as well as a 1998 shiraz on offer from Berrys Bridge, both about $28 a bottle. And now, having tasted them in all their youthful, vibrant, gutsy glory (the wines nudge 15.5 per cent alcohol), I'm keen to find out more.

Berrys Bridge is a 7ha vineyard and fully operational stone winery right up in the northern reaches of the Pyrenees wine region, near the town of St Arnaud (about 10 km east of Kara Kara, if you're familiar with the area). It has been open for about a year and the '98s are the second vintage offered for sale.

The winery was built and the vineyard planted a decade ago by Roger Milner and his partner, Jane Holt. The pair had worked in mineral exploration, but spending four vintages at Chateau Reynella in the early 1970s and knocking around with people like Graham Leith at Passing Clouds (a vineyard in Bendigo) had left Milner with a passion for wine. According to Milner, setting up so far north of the established vineyards and cellar door route felt a bit dauntingly pioneering at times. So the pair was overjoyed to discover that in 1894 a Mr Berry was growing grapes and making wine - "hermitage (shiraz) ... second to none" - from a 30 year-old vineyard on almost the same spot.

Milner and Holt weren't sure when they started how well their grapes would go. They knew they wanted to make "biggish red wines", but other than that they have let the fruit dictate style. And what a style. These wines are very big and destined for the very long haul. The shiraz is rich, smoky, full of bold young berry fruit and substantial - if supple - tannin. The cabernet is earthier, gutsier, with almost over-ripe and hot pruney berry flavours held in check by grippy tannin and some juicy acidity. I left both wines open for a few days and they both developed a noticeable (perhaps regional) minty streak.

As is so often the case, of course, the wines from this new operation aren't exactly failing off the shelves at your local pub bottle shop. Although production is predicted to top 3000 cases within two years, the 1998 vintage yielded just a few hundred dozen bottles for the Berrys Bridge label (the rest was sold to other wineries).

The best I can do, then, nis point you in the direction of those shops that have bought the wines from the distributors over the last few weeks.
In Melbourne, try Armadale Cellars, Quaffers, Phillip Murphy, Chaucer Cellars, Burwood Cellars, Fred Young's and Nick's. In Adelaide, as I've said, try East End Cellars. Some of the wine has gone to Sydney recently, so phone the distributors, Winestock, on 1300 308 338 for stockists there. You may also be lucky in Liquorland and Vintage Cellars stores in Victoria and NSW.