- Our 2022 Dark Horse shortlist includes wineries receiving their first five-star rating, after having scored four stars in the years prior. Those who make it into the category have no doubt been quietly refining their product for years, whilst simultaneously creating a noteworthy cellar door experience. Get acquainted with these four diverse producers from across the country below.
Kim Tyrer, Galafrey – Mount Barker, WAH. What is the history behind your winery?
K. Galafrey Wines was established in 1977 in Mount Barker WA by my parents Linda and Ian Tyrer. I was literally born and bred into the wine industry and now drive Galafrey into the next generation of family winemakers after the untimely death of my father in 2003. Our nomination for 2022 Dark Horse Winery is a great recognition of how far we have come with the development of our brand and style and reinforces that we are on the right track. We have stayed true to ourselves and continue to produce great wines, striving to be better and better.
H. What makes Galafrey wines unique?
K. We are known for our award-winning riesling. Our dry-grown vineyard allows us to achieve a balance of purity, complexity and acidity, with the juice having more surface contact area with the skins and seeds. We are celebrating our 45th anniversary next year and as second-generation winemakers, we are making wines which reflect a sense of place and story. People who are new to our wines should make sure to try our rieslings, unique Muller Thurgau, whole-bunch shiraz, and merlot.
432 Quangellup Rd, Mount Barker WA | Find out more.
Winemaker Ian Rathjen, Whistling Eagle – Heathcote, VICH. Can you tell us a little about your winery?
I. Situated in the northern part of the Heathcote wine-growing region, Whistling Eagle started off as a hobby in the mid 90’s – now our family-owned and operated wine business has reached new heights. We produce outstanding wines that reflect the balance and harmony between viticulture and the environment and are delighted to be nominated for 2022 Dark Horse Winery. After almost 25 years in the industry, we endeavour to keep making wine to be shared amongst family and friends and enjoyed while making memories.
H. What would you like people to know about Whistling Eagle wines?
I. It’s an all-hands-on-deck, family-run winemaking process. We take great care and consideration to be sure our wines reflect true varietal characteristics and selected small ferments and slow consistent fermentation are key to achieving this. Whistling Eagle has a unique range of wines that are well suited to this area and can easily stand on their own in single-variety styles – like cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese, grenache, malbec and cabernet franc.
2769 Heathcote-Rochester Rd, Colbinabbin VIC | Find out more.
Winemaker Anton Therkildsen, Valhalla Wines – Rutherglen, VICH. What do you love about making wine at your winery?
A. My short-term job twenty years ago has led to a long-term love affair with the Rutherglen area and the growers, producers, restaurants, farmers and community of North East Victoria. I relish both working with our grape growers and juggling the different aspects of being a winemaker – selling, marketing and all the other jobs that come along with it. In the vineyards, I am a custodian of a lot of the work of people who have come before me.
H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
A. My winemaking is reasonably laid back, lo-fi and traditional. Valhalla wines are handcrafted, small-batch styles that express the place they are grown and are made with the pleasure of drinking in mind. I work with small growers who tend their patches with love and a philosophy of minimal intervention. We are a little winery with a great diversity of flavours across the range and I feel truly honoured to have been shortlisted for 2022 Dark Horse category, amongst some vibrant and remarkable producers.
163 All Saints Rd, Wahgunyah VIC | Find out more.
Winemaker Livia Maiorana, South by South West – Margaret River, WAH. Can you tell us a little about South by South West?
L. We are a small-batch, artisan winemaker based in the Margaret River wine region. Our focus is on crafting quality wines of honesty and difference that combine sustainable respect for the land, and minimal intervention in the winery to best demonstrate the where the fruit comes from and the values that best represent the south west. It’s a real honour to be nominated for 2022 Dark Horse Winery and we are humbled to be shortlisted with an awesome bunch of winemakers from across Australia. We love what we do and are stoked to be recognised for our achievements.
H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
L. At South by South West, we are all about focusing on the vineyard and getting the most out of the fruit. Our motto is more hands on in the vineyard, and more hands off in the winery. We believe in sustainable, natural farming and seek our fruit from all over the south west to craft terroir and vintage-driven wines that combine respect for the land, sustainable farming, and respectful handling in the winery. We want people drinking our or wines to taste the fruit and the vineyard where it came from.
2/12 Wrigglesworth Dr, Cowaramup WA | Find out more.
This article was produced in partnership with the featured wineries.
Top image supplied by Wine Australia / Credit Andre Castellucci.