The Barossa Valley is famous for top Australian wines, especially Shiraz. One of the individuals responsible for this reputation is Grant Burge. Although the company was only founded in 1988, his family has been making wine for six generations.
The founding of Grant Burge Wines is preceded by a colourful history, which bears some of the characteristics of a ragsto- riches-story. It started with a tailor named John Burge from Hillcot in the English Wiltshire, who emigrated with his family to the Barossa Valley in 1855. Almost ten years earlier, settlers from England and Silesia had recognised the exceptional fertility of the soils and developed an active agriculture there. John Burge, who had taken an interest in wine, became a winemaker at Hillside Vineyards. One of his sons, Meshach, followed in his father’s footsteps and produced his first wine as early as 1865. Meshach’s son Percival, the third generation, built his own vineyard in 1926, named Wilsford Winery, which focused particularly on the cultivation of sweet wines, whose aging capacity quickly became a special characteristic.
The young Grant Burge, son of Colin Burge (who is one of Percival’s two sons) also had his first wine experiences in the Wilsford Winery. “During my youth, I loved the lush green of our vineyards, the yearly suspense when the harvest was brought in and the grapes went into the wine press. The workers followed traditions that were centuries old. And then the distinctive scents of the barrels in the old Wilsford cellars!” Grant Burge recalls. As it turns out, the boy had talent. He learned the craft on other vineyards in Southern Australia in the 1970s. Today, his dense red wines and powerful white wines are remarkable.
When he had the opportunity to purchase the renowned Krondorf Winery, Grant, together with his colleagues Ian Wilson and four other investors, bought it.
The move was smart because now Grant could really show what he is capable of. For the 1979 Krondorf Cabernet Sauvignon, Grant Burge and Ian Wilson received the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy. That, of course, raised new ambitions, and in 1985, Mildara purchased the Krondorf Winery as part of a hostile takeover. But Grant Burge did not give up; three years later, together with his wife Helen, he founded Grant Burge Wines on the same road as Krondorf. “I am just a romantic,” explained Grant Burge. “And I felt that it was my destiny to establish once and for all the connection our family has to Australian wine growing, which had started with my great-grandfather Meshach.”
The confident Barossa winemaker, who had, over the course of time, purchased more and more top-quality vineyards, expanded his capacities through the acquisition of the venerated Illaparra Winery in Tanunda, which today is famous for its red wines. Finally, he was also able to buy the Krondorf Winery back, and white wine is produced there today. “When combining the best soil, the best climate, and the best cellar technology, you will get the best wines,” the philosophy goes. The wines are prepared with the highest degree of care. It is no accident that one of the wines that demands the most respect is a blend made from Shiraz, Grenache, and Mouvèdre and is called “The Holy Trinity”. What is also impressive is the long line of awards that were won by the Grant Burge wines. They include the top wines Meshach Shiraz made from almost 100 year old Shiraz grapes, Shadrach Cabernet Sauvignon and Abednego Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre or the platinum Vigneron Adelaide Hills Chardonnay. From the more geographically elevated Corryton Park Vineyard in the southern Barossa Valley come the grapes for the elegant Cabernet Sauvignon. Grant Burge purchased the 150-year old estate in 1999. Riesling grows in the cooler Eden Valley (Thorn Riesling from 30-year old grapes), while the rare white variety Frontignac is grown in the Lily Farm Vineyard directly in front of the winery’s doorstep. The sparkling wines are also worth a mention, produced using the traditional method, as well as the sweet and dessert wines, which receive awards just as often as the red or white Grant Burge wines.
For Grant Burge, viniculture is more than just producing wine: “I want to pass my know-how down. Viniculture is an old family tradition. I believe that we must preserve our experience and traditions in the Barossa viniculture and make it available to the next generations, so that future winemakers know how they can make the best wines in this unique region.” At Grant Burge, the next generation is already involved. Toby, the oldest, is vineyard manager and is responsible for outdoor operational work. Since 2007, Amelia has been involved in the company’s marketing, and the youngest, Trent, has completed his winemaker training at the Illaparra Vineyard and is now working in the vineyard. It seems guaranteed that Grant Burge will continue to stand for Barossa’s finest: strong, very fruity, velvety-soft wines with a great deal of potential.
Grant Burge Wines Pty Ltd
Tel.: +61 8 8563 3700
Fax: +61 8 8563 2807
Contact in Germany:
Schlumberger Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH & Co KG
Tel.: +49 2225 925-0
Fax: +49 2225 925151