Sorrenberg is one of the great Australian family-owned winemaking domains.
Barry and Jan Morey planted their small 2.4 Ha. block on the outskirts of Beechworth township way back in 1984. Over the last three decades, they have turned out some of the region's most profoundly delicious wines.
The key to their success - keeping things simple. Barry farms both their original Home Block and the Rhino vineyard (planted just over a kilometre away in 1990) biodynamically, finding balance in the vineyard through traditional farming practices. In the cellar, he does everything by hand. The ferments are wild, the fruit is basket pressed, the juice sent to the quiet, cool barrel cave under the family home to slumber before release.
"It may just be the Beechworth wine I most look forward to trying each year."
- Campbell Mattinson on the Sorrenberg Gamay
They've kept their range simple too, only growing and varieties that they love, oblivious of industry trends. They are renowned for their shapely Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, their beautifully balanced Bordeaux blend and, of course, their benchmark Gamay.
There's nothing flashy about the operation, but the sheer unswerving quality over 30+ years has seen the label rise to cult icon status. Those who know, know Sorrenberg is something special.
This simple, honest approach is a blueprint that more new producers could learn from - make wine with integrity and love and the rest will take care of itself.
If you would like to sample Barry and Jan's latest releases, you'll find a small allocation of their two reds available at the link below.
Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown
Here's the next generation following in the Morey's footsteps. Tessa Brown and Jeremy Schmölzer are just at the beginning of their story, but the early chapters have been page turners.
Tessa spent a few years working under Barry at Sorrenberg and has taken that knowledge with her as she and Jeremy have planted their own vineyard high up in Stanley behind Beechworth.
Just like the Moreys, they've planted the varieties that most excite them: Chardonnay and Shiraz both have a place at Thorley vineyard as the region's two flagship varieties. They have Riesling, which is Jeremy's passion, built during a harvest at the great German Riesling house, Keller. Tessa spent some formative time making wine in Barolo, so Nebbiolo is in the ground as well. As the vines mature, a shift to organic farming is on the cards. As the couple say, "We spend a lot more time in the field than in the cellar, so our winemaking practises are pretty simple."
"In a discussion around a table it’s wonderful to know that part of VS&B backstory weaves into Sorrenbergs, though the cues from the Beechworth region might skew at both places. That being said, the mentor/mentee/community that meets between the two producers is potent, great stuff."
- Mike Bennie (The Wine Front)
As they wait for the vines on Thorley to find their feet, they have cast their eye to other vineyards and regions to find fruit to support their project.
Today we release four new wines from them, including the excellent 2017 Brünnen Pinot Noir - their best Pinot release to date - and their new project wines from the Indigo Vineyard in Beechworth. There's a delightful, juicy, nouveau-feeling Pinot Noir from Indigo named Blauburgunder, and a small parcel of Shiraz which stood out as the best barrel of the Pret-a-Rouge blend that they've bottled on its own. Both wines are only a 50 dozen make.
It's one of the great things in wine, to say you've been 'buying them from the start.' You have that opportunity with VS&B. To say that Tess and Jeremy will be the next Sorrenberg would be trite, however, the two operations share enough common DNA to make a compelling case to keep a close eye on VS&B as it blossoms.