Australian wine has steadily come a long way since its humble and highly experimental beginnings in the 19th century. The amazingly fertile soil, blazing hot summers and cooling oceanic winds consistently produce remarkably flavorful fruit, and the pioneering boldness of its vintners has established a strong viticultural identity which seems to be going from strength to strength. Unlike most wineries in Australia, which are generally youthful, new projects, Pewsey Vale is a winery with a considerable bit of history behind it. It was first founded way back in the early 19th century, by a certain Joseph Gilbert, an enterprising man from the west of England. He had caught the rumour that the new land down under was a land of opportunity, and set sail on the round-the-world journey that led him to what is now the Barossa Valley, where he promptly bought up vast swathes of land. The fifteen thousand acres that he purchased were quickly followed by further thousands of acres in the Eden Valley, a beautiful stretch of land which, thanks to its height above sea level, turned out to be exceptional vine growing country.
It wasn’t long before Joseph Gilbert’s land in the richly fertile Eden Valley was turned over to wine production, and it went from strength to strength before being abandoned during the economic depression of the early twentieth century. However, it was brought back from the dead in the 1960s by the then owner of Pewsey Vale - Gilbert’s ancestral home - who, upon discovering his home was the site of one of Australia’s earliest wineries, set about restoring it as a winery of excellence and character. This project led to one of the country’s most prestigious wineries, driven by a sense of national pride and heritage as well as the excellence of the vines that flourished there.
Pewsey Vale prides itself massively on being a historic, single-estate, single variety winery. That single variety is Riesling, that noble Germanic wine which produces crisp, fresh white wines which have fantastic character and an amazing potential for ageing. The vineyards of Pewsey Vale are situated at five hundred meters above sea level, and two hundred and fifty meters above the Barossa Valley floor, meaning the micro-climate of the vineyards produces low yields of exceptionally expressive fruit. The current viticulturalist of Pewsey Vale, Darrel Kruger, has relatively recently turned his production methods over to biodynamic farming, meaning he has a holistic relationship with his land which he believes brings out the very best of the grape in the glass.