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Friday 18 September 2015

How a family winery has thrived over four decades in the Clare Valley

When Andrew and Jane Mitchell started making wine in the Clare Valley, South Australia, 40 years ago there were only a handful of vignerons in the region.

The Clare was remote and largely unloved by wine consumers.

When I caught up with them last month, they looked back on just how much has changed over four decades in the business.

Today they have 75 hectares under vine, make around 30,000 cases a year and export globally.

Two of the nicest people in the wine business, the Mitchells have four vineyard sites ranging in altitude from 300-450 metres above sea level.

They are a real family business with all three of their now adult children having returned home from various adventures to join the growing family concern.

Their vines range from five to 55 years of age and there is a focus on riesling, semillon, shiraz, grenache and cabernet sauvignon.

All the Mitchell wines, which are very reasonably priced, are “dry-grown, hand-picked, hand-made and estate-bottled”.

The estate range is complemented by the premium McNicol range of wines that are released as mature bottles but will improve with further cellaring.

After four decades, the Mitchells retain an admirable enthusiasm for wine, and a passion for quality.

And while they do not advertise it, or seek accreditation, the Mitchells follow organic principles in both their vineyards and winery.

“Basically we are farming the way my father used to farm, long before anyone made a fuss about organics,” Andrew Mitchell said.

It is a Mitchell philosophy to only release wines when they are ready.

Thus the current release Watervale Riesling, an elegant, textural wine, is from 2014, the slurpable Grenache Mataro from 2011, the perennially popular Peppertree Shiraz from 2012 and the Sevenhill Cabernet Sauvignon from 2008.

All retail for under $30, which makes them outstanding value.

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