Château Tanunda Progressive Perspectives
At 133 years' young, Château Tanunda's vision for the future shines brighter than ever.
If you were to ask someone the first winery that comes to mind when they think of the Barossa, the answer you’d most likely receive would be Château Tanunda - and for good reason. Its majestic bluestone buildings shaped the history of the region in countless ways, with its vineyards the site of some of the valley’s first-ever planted vines.
Despite its enduring status as the ‘Birthplace of the Barossa’, Château Tanunda isn’t one for resting on its laurels. It’s been around long enough to know that tastes and trends change, and that a considered progression in attitude and approach is the cornerstone of longevity in such a fiercely competitive market.
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"Holding the line between tradition and modernity can be a delicate balancing act,” says Château Tanunda Managing Director Michelle Geber, whose father John took ownership of the iconic winery in 1998, restoring its dilapidated facilities to their former glory.
"History and heritage are essential aspects of our identity, and we take great pride in working with vines that have been around since the inception of the Barossa,” says Geber. “At the same time, we find it essential to embrace modern winemaking techniques and sustainable practices to ensure our winery’s long-term success.”
Jeremy Ottawa, Premium Barossa Winemaker at Château Tanunda since 2021, says the key to achieving this balance is in recognising the intrinsic quality of old vine fruit, and using the best in modern technology to gently guide the natural process in the winery.
"We’re so lucky to work with some of the oldest vines in the world and have access to incredible fruit from some of the best sites in the Barossa,” he says. “Our rare Old Vine Expressions range are leading examples, with wines from 50, 100 and 150-year-old vineyards, nurtured in the winery. From a style perspective, we prioritise quality and consistency, without looking sideways at quick fads.”
It’s a point Geber makes also. “While it’s essential to keep abreast of trends in our industry, sometimes they can be just that - trends. There’ll always be demand for quality, consistency, and wines with a sense of place,” she says. “The challenge lies in striking the right balance between riding the wave of changing tastes while maintaining your own unique identity and style.”
Her father, John, observes that the region - and Château Tanunda itself - is building beyond its reputation for world-class Shiraz with an expanding repertoire of varieties that have truly come into their own. “It’s exciting to see our Chardonnay, Riesling and Grenache being celebrated, even as our Old Vine Shiraz continue to be recognised and awarded in global competitions.”
If one thing has changed around the perception of the region and its signature varietal, however, it’s the misnomer that all Barossa Shiraz are big and full-bodied. While this deservedly celebrated style has retained a core following, there has been a marked shift in tastes.
“These days, people are looking for freshness and vibrancy,” says Ottawa. “A delicate Grenache, a refined Shiraz, or the pristine purity of Riesling. Stylistically, the Barossa is evolving in a pure and positive way, and the best Barossa Shiraz are now elegant and fruit-driven, with oak lifting the fruit, not dominating it.”
Indeed, it’s a shift that in many ways Château Tanunda anticipated with the launch of its Terroirs of the Barossa range back in 2005. “When our customers now taste through the range of our wines, there is a clear focus on fruit purity and elegance without losing the Barossa DNA,” says Ottawa. “As John Geber likes to say, ‘We’re still a heavyweight boxer, but we are more Muhammad Ali than a George Foreman.”
Another way the winery is helping people discover just what the Barossa can deliver is the new Château Tanunda Cellar Door, situated in Sydney’s historic The Rocks.
For the Gebers, it’s proved a resounding success already. “We’ve had an incredible reception to it,” says Michelle. “It offers guests a chance to taste through our rare and collectable Old Vine Expressions collection and experience the special story it has to tell.” Open seven days a week, it’s become especially popular with international travellers.
“Our Château Tanunda Sydney Cellar Door is an opportunity to showcase the iconic Barossa Valley region, without having to leave the city,” says John. Indeed, the venue embodies the kind of forward thinking that pays big dividends, something that has ever been a cornerstone of the Château Tanunda story: then, today and tomorrow.
Explore the full range of this influential Barossa icon at chateautanunda.com.au