The Yarra Valley’s Yarra Yering has just been crowned the Number 1 winery in Australia by Huon Hooke and Bob Campbell’s prestigious Real Review’s Top Wineries of Australia.
After tasting some truly outstanding wine with Winemaker Sarah Crowe we had to tell the story of Yarra Yering.
The very beginning
Great wine always starts with great stories and the Yarra Valley is no exception.
The Ryrie Brothers started growing wine at Yering Station in the Yarra Valley in 1838. Swiss emigre Paul de Castella bought the property in 1850 and found out the hard way that the ground beneath his feet could produce exceptional wine when his beloved favourite French drop ran out. His servant appeared with a jug of Ryrie wine and the problem was solved.
Paul de Castella became a winemaker that night.
Importing advanced winemaking equipment from Bordeaux, de Castella went on to win the Grand Prix at the Paris Exhibition in 1889 – the world’s most prestigious wine competition. And, so began Victoria’s oldest wine region – the Yarra Valley.
When Phylloxera arrived in Victoria, the thriving industry was devastated. Despite wealthy Melburnians, thirst for quality wine, when the economy floundered so did the wine industry. Changing palates and astronomical wool prices led to every last vine pulled by 1937.
The renaissance began in the ’60s – and Yarra Yering was born
The first to replant was plant physiologist, Doctor Bailey Carrodus. He had studied horticulture, agriculture and oenology and viticulture in New Zealand and Australia before completing his studies at Queens College Oxford in 1965. He went on the ‘grand tour’ of wine throughout France, Portugal, Spain and Italy and was driven to make fine, cool-climate wines.
After years spent studying the soil, flora and topography of the Yarra Valley, he named his vineyard Yarra Yering. Inspired by the elegant wines he had tasted in Europe, the good doctor produced his first vintage in 1973 – Dry Red Wine No.1 and Dry Red Wine No.2. This was the first commercial Yarra Valley vintage since 1922.
His vision was quickly displayed in the wine. The cool-climate wines were lighter in style than the prevailing vintages from red powerhouse regions like the Barossa. Indeed, they were more European in style with firm acidity and a savoury element. Now, all the rage these wines were decidedly unfashionable in the ’80s and ’90s which of course did not concern the intensely private, dogmatic Dr Carrodus.
The tradition continues
For thirty-five years, Dr Carrodus crafted award-winning wine – doing his bit to bring the region back to its glory days. When he passed in 2008, Ed Peter and Reid Bosward purchased Yarra Yering and assistant winemaker Paul Bridgeman took up the reins. On his departure, Sarah Crowe the recipient of the 2009 Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association’s Hunter Legends “Rising Star of the Year” Award was appointed winemaker.
Sarah had studied and worked extensively in Oregon. She had worked at Bimbadgen in the Hunter and Brokenwood’s Beechworth vineyards. After arriving in Yarra Yering in 2013, she delighted fans when she ditched cork in favour of screw caps in 2014.
Sarah Crowe was awarded James Halliday’s Winemaker of the Year in 2017.
All of the label’s wines are produced from the one 28-hectare vineyard and under Crowe’s stewardship, the Yarra Yering reputation has soared. She has expanded the Carrodus range of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and viognier. All of these wines are made from vines planted by Dr Carrodus.
The accolades will keep on coming. Congratulations to Sarah and the entire Yarra Yering crew.