Château Tanunda Driving Australias First Growth
It takes great vision to transform a neglected building into not only an impressive attraction in itself, but also to make it home to some of australia’s finest wines.
One morning in 1998, as John Geber was cycling though Tanunda he passed by the abandoned Château Tanunda and, despite disrepair shrouding its former glory, he fell in love. He looked past the faded exterior, the broken windows, the derelict remains and saw something else.
He studied the expanse of the bluestone walls, its location, and its resolute Bavarian stylings and saw his family’s future connected to the Château, the Barossa and Australia’s wine history.
Polishing the Gem
Little did John know that his dream to rebuild Château Tanunda would also end up fuelling a winemaking powerhouse whose wines would go on to achieve immense success in the international wine world, and lead to the Château being deemed as the only recognized wine Château outside of the European Union.
“I saw this unbelievable building,” John recalls. “I saw grandeur and I saw the potential to build something authentic, something special with quality that could rival the best in the world, so we decided to go for it.
“It was an undiscovered gem that just needed polishing. We have some of the oldest vineyards in the Valley, and I saw the opportunity to make truly beautiful wine, the kind that befits the stature and status of the Château.”
Filling the Trophy Cabinet
Château Tanunda soon established an enviable portfolio of wines that gracefully expressed the unique qualities of the Barossa and the accolades started to flow.
In 2010, the Château won the Best Shiraz award at the International Wine and Spirits Competition, the wine equivalent of the Olympic Games, with its 2009 100 Year Old Vines Shiraz and repeated the accolade two years later with its 100 Year Old Vines Grenache.
In 2020, the Château, for the eighth time in nine years, was awarded Best Australian Producer at the prestigious Berlin Wine Trophy, making it one of Australia’s highest awarded and most recognised wine estates.
Quality Vision, Vines and Wines
Crafting the Château’s wines is senior winemaker Neville Rowe, who joined in 2015, drawn by the Geber family’s collegiate approach to winemaking. This sees John, along with his daughter, Château Tanunda’s managing director Michelle as part of the process that ensures the best possible wines go into bottle.
“I was drawn by John and Michelle’s vision not to make wines all about themselves, their view was much wider. They wanted to preserve the legacy of Australia’s only true Château and make beautiful wines that reflect and celebrate the magnificent heritage vineyards that have been around for well over 100 years.”
From these heritage vines Neville, his team and the family are creating a new chapter for Château Tanunda, with wines that are defined by a savoury, European elegance but with a bold grace that is distinctly Barossan.
“It’s rewarding to be part of building what we see as Australia’s 1st growth estate,” Neville says. “We make some of the best wines the Barossa can produce and they are only going to get better.”