Located at Sevenhill in the beautiful Clare Valley, the Mitchell Winery was established in 1975 by Andrew and Jane Mitchell. Studying Wine Science at Riverina College (Charles Sturt University) in the late 1970s helped crystallise Andrew's winemaking philosophies of making wines of intensity, varietal fruit flavours and definitive regional character; wines that are balanced and elegant.
Classified in Australian terms as a small winery, Mitchell Winery crushes and processes up to 600 tonnes of grapes each year off 80 hectares of vineyards that are cared for using organic methods.
Mitchells Wines have four vineyards ranging in altitude from 300 to 450 metres and are located in and around the Watervale, Auburn and Sevenhill sub regions. Vine age ranges from as little as five to over 55 years, with a focus on Riesling, Semillon, Shiraz, Grenache and the Cabernet family of grapes.
Andrew and Jane have spent 40 years developing their vineyards and wines and their three children are now driven by the same passion. Their eldest daughter Edwina is the first point of contact at Mitchell Wines, while their son Angus has worked in all facets of the wines industry from cellar hand to sales and marketing before finding his place in the vineyard. He now manages Mitchell’s vineyards incorporating the organic beliefs laid out before him by his father and his grandfather Peter.
“There is always something special about wines where the same family develops and cares for the vines, makes and bottles the wine and then sells that wine,” says Andrew “ An old fashioned ideal perhaps, but our reputation is at stake with each bottle of wine we sell.”
The cellar door is open seven days from 10am til 4pm and is just a two-hour drive from Adelaide.
Asking winemakers to choose their favourite varietal is often compared to asking parents to choose a favourite child – what is yours?
Andrew: Having grown up in Clare I was brought up on Riesling and I have always believed it to be the most exciting white wine on earth. Don’t get me wrong, if anyone wants to share a bottle of Grand Cru Burgundy I will be keen, but it cannot compare with the dazzling virtuosity of Riesling – so many styles, so many subtle variances of flavour, but always the sheer class of Riesling. And then there is the capacity to age: what other wine can be superb drinking in its first year and yet vibrant and lively with all the complexity of age when it’s 30 years old?
You’ve long considered dry-grown fruit to have better developed characteristics in the final wine – why is that?
Andrew: Our vineyards are run on the very traditional ‘Clare growers’ methods. The vines are grown without any irrigation. To do this you have to manage the soil very carefully to preserve as much moisture as possible. As we do not use any herbicides the weed control is by the traditional method of cultivation. With no irrigation and no chemical fertilisers, the vines are forced to send their roots deep into the subsoil and so they fully exploit the minerals of the site and extract those factors that give the wine its unique character. How can a wine be said to express a sense of place when it is watered by River Murray water pumped in from outside the Clare Valley?
Did you know...
Owner and winemaker Andrew Mitchell was actually born on the Mitchell family vineyard at Sevenhill and after leaving school studied economics before returning to establish the winery in 1975 and turning his talents to winemaking.