Chief winemaker Eric Semmler moved to the Riverland to work, while his wife and business co-director Jenny came for love, but they both fell in love with the region. They believe the Riverland can produce wine that rivals the quality of anywhere in the world, and say this drove their decision to quit their jobs with Hardy Wines and set sail under their own label, 919 Wines.
They share their story here as part of a series profiling wineries participating in the 2016 Cellar Door Festival next month.
“The vineyard was developed for low-input and high-quality fruit production, and planted with varieties that perform best in a hot climate. Our neighbours couldn’t believe that we would strive for minimal irrigation, low tonnage yield and hand working the vines when we first started.
“Our first wine to market was Durif, possibly the first single-variety Durif produced in South Australia. This remains our most popular wine to this day. We decided to certify the vineyard and winery for organic production in 2009, in line with our philosophy of minimal footprint on the environment.
“We purchased a second vineyard in 2011, allowing us to keep up with demand for our wine.
“Our business has three main interests: we grow grapes for some of Australia’s most recognised organic wine brands, we make specialist wines for clients within the Riverland and further afield, and we make and sell wine for our own brands, 919 and Ella Semmler’s Orchard.”
What do we do best…
“We are particularly good at making individual varieties sing, so that they each express their own flavours, aromas and characteristics. Our wines are delicious on their own, but are amazing with food. We specialise in producing wine from alternative varieties, including fortified wines and table wines.”
What our place mean to us…
“Our place is a refuge for native animals, birds, insects and plants. We love the diversity of life in the river region, and we aim to encourage that through our organic practises on both our vineyards.
“We have planted grape varieties that are particularly suited to our hot climate, such as Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional, and they thrive here. Our wines can have quite a spicy characteristic – cinnamon, cloves and fine white pepper – which we attribute to our indigenous microflora and soil.”
What will bring to the Cellar Door Fest…
“We always bring our Durif, which is the wine that wows everyone. We also bring our Petit Manseng which is delicate and textural, our Touriga Nacional and Sangiovese which are lighter, delicious styles, and Shiraz, which is everyone’s favourite. This year we will be introducing our new range, Ella Semmler’s Orchard (single vineyard, certified organic), and our refreshed 919 Reserve label.”
Why we take part…
“We have taken part every year since the Cellar Door Festival started. For us, it is a great way to bring our wine to new consumers, reconnect with current followers and showcase the best that our region has to offer. We like to build long-term relationships and to encourage visitors to our region and our cellar door. We have found that people remember and visit us up to three years after discovering us at the festival.”
Eric and Jenny Semmler will join 180 other South Australian food and wine producers at the 2016 Cellar Door Fest from February 26 to 28 at the Adelaide Convention Centre, where they will have their 919 Wines and Ella Semmler’s Orchard ranges available for tasting and purchase.
Cellar door and winery: 39 Hodges Road, Glossop
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