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Tuesday 13 October 2015

Organics take historic Baileys back to the future

They've been making wine at Baileys of Glenrowan, in north-east Victoria, since 1870. Some of Australia's best fortifieds have been produced here, along with a range of macho shirazes.

Winemaker Paul Dahlenburg, who arrived from the Hunter Valley almost 20 years ago, has done a remarkable job in turning around a producer that didn't always get a lot of love from its owner – industry giant Treasury Wines Estates.

Dahlenburg and vineyard manager Chris Timms have overseen vineyard expansion, a 2000-tonne-capacity winery has been constructed and the cellar door boasts a heritage museum, art gallery and landscaped gardens.

Paul Dahlenburg
Baileys is back on the map in a major way and Dahlenburg announced earlier this year that, as of the 2015 vintage, all estate-sourced table wines are being made under Australian Certified Organic principles.

Inspired by 145 years of winemaking history and the successful release of the 2012 Baileys Organic Shiraz, the commitment to organics at Baileys is described by Dahlenburg as “a tribute to the traditional techniques used when the winery was first established”.

Dahlenburg's research revealed that Baileys’ founder Richard Bailey used a similar minimal intervention approach to winemaking in the 1870s, when he put Glenrowan on the map as one of Australia’s pioneering winemaking regions.

These days we take the best of old-world winemaking practices and combine them with modern winemaking techniques, guided by organic principles, to produce our wines at Baileys,” he says.

It has been many years in the making to become fully certified organic – first the Baileys of Glenrowan Vineyard became fully certified in 2011, then in vintage 2012 we produced our first fully certified organic wine: our Organic Shiraz.

We’ve now taken the final step of becoming fully certified organic, both in the vineyard and in the winery for all our estate-sourced wines, including our old vine shiraz.

The move towards organics made so much sense for us at Baileys, as this style of farming is particularly suited to Glenrowan’s warm and dry climate which lends itself to a minimalist approach. The wines are a true representation of Glenrowan fruit, with regional characteristics that really shine through.

While still only early days we have been thrilled with the way the vineyards have responded and we are excited to see where this journey will take us.

In order to gain organic certification, there are a number of regulations that a winery must comply with. These include only using organically approved products; maintaining a cleaning register; keeping ferments healthy and robust so that fermentation occurs in a clean and pure manner which minimises sulphide production; and passing annual audits both at the winery and in the vineyard.

It’s a more holistic approach to winemaking. For example it has forced us to investigate winemaking techniques that create a healthy and robust fermentation process – which means that we are less likely to have to intervene post-fermentation,” Dahlenburg says.

We see true potential in organic winemaking and can’t wait for people to taste the 2015 portfolio as the wines are released in the coming years.”

The Baileys vineyard is one of the largest in north-east Victoria, with 143 hectares under vine with shiraz, durif, muscat and muscadelle (topaque).

The vineyard is planted into the lower slopes of the Warby Ranges and looks out over the nearby Winton Wetlands. 

# This is an edited version of a story that first appeared in Nourish Magazine.

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