When it comes to South Australian red wines, many of us fail to look past the big, bold reds of the Barossa or McLaren Vale.
However, doing so is to ignore Coonawarra, a picturesque pocket nestled near the South Australian and Victorian borders that produces some of the finest red wines on the market.
Sitting in the heart of this revered wine region is Koonara Wines, a family-owned organic winery that has been producing bold reds from Coonawarra’s famed terra rossa soil for over 100 years.
Koonara is headed by Dru and Nicole Reschke, who use sustainable winemaking practices to harvest high quality wines without any ‘bad stuff’. Their organic approach to winemaking is steeped in a focus on quality rather than quantity, with their low yields producing small grapes that are big in flavour.
Lux Wine Life were lucky enough to chat with Dru and Nicole about all things wine, from their winemaking process to their new releases for 2021.
Lux Wine Life: What is the inspiration behind Koonara Wines?
Dru Reschke: In 1906, my great grandfather Henry Albert and his wife Alice Jane Reschke bought a property to raise cattle. They named it ‘Koonara’ after the new name for the area. At the time the region was known as the ‘Penola Fruit Blocks’ or ‘Penola Fruit Colony’, but many were keen to make the new name ‘Coonawarra’ stick. Since 1988, our vineyards and wine have been our passion, and today Nicole, our girls and I live in the family homestead surrounded by our vineyards. It’s for this reason (and many others) that we are creating a sustainable eco-system in our vineyards.
Talk us through the winemaking process at Koonara, from harvest to the bottle.
D: We’re certified to Australian Organic Standards in our Coonawarra vineyards, which means no pesticides have been used in our Coonawarra vineyards for over 10 years. In fact, we only average four sprays per year for disease, with only organically certified product so as not to harm our delicate ecosystem. This means we let nature take care of any bad bugs. We grow selected weeds to attract ‘good bugs’ that eat our ‘bad bugs’, so we have no need for pesticides. We also let selected weeds grow long and their roots deep, which aerates the soil and fills it with organic material. This holds water and natural nutrients, which help to produce healthy vines. We are also particular about how we do things – for example, we never use oak substitutes (chips, planks or dominos) to make our wines. This means we don’t cut corners – our wines won’t be the cheapest but the fact they are aged in 100% oak barrels means you can expect the highest quality. We also strive to ensure our wines have low (below 3g/L) or no residual sugar, but they still taste sweet which shows the perfect balance in the vineyard. The exception to this is in our Moscato, and just a touch is present in our sparkling red & white. We keep the tonnes on our vineyard low and do a gentle pressing of the grapes. We generally age our red wines in oak for 18-26 months.
What is unique about your winery?
D: Our shared passion to ensure we do things differently. When you know better, you can do better. This applies to all aspects of our winery from not only the vineyards, but to how we make wines for your enjoyment and how we present events to bring the community together. We are currently the only certified organic vineyard in Coonawarra.
Who is your ideal clientele?
D: Anyone who sees the value in looking after our earth while still being wanting to enjoy themselves day to day. Someone who is happy to enjoy a quality yet reasonable priced over-delivering wine.
What are your most popular wines?
D: We are well known for our balanced Cabernet Sauvignon, mainly our Wanderlust and Ambriels Gift labels. We are also well known for our lively Flowers for Lucy Moscato, a drier style Moscato with a light fizz. We also have a range of popular still whites (Lucy and Alice Pinot Gris, Angels Footprints Sauvignon Blanc) and our Guardian Sparkling Chardonnay.
What else does your winery offer (e.g accommodation, food, tours/tastings)?
D: Our Cellar Door is also home to our retail store. Not only can you sit down and relax while tasting our extensive wine portfolio, you can also meander around our store. Our retail offering stocks homewares, jewellery, skincare, clothing and baby and kids items as well as vast array of kitchenware. We can’t forget our very own range of glassware, designed by us for you to enjoy at home!
What new products are you bringing out in 2021?
D: Once we have completed our harvest, we look forward to re-releasing our famous Emily May Rosé as well as new vintages of our Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and our red labels later in the year. These include a 2019 Wanderlust Cabernet Sauvignon, Ambriel’s Gift Cabernet Sauvignon and Ezra’s Gift Shiraz. We will also be adding a ‘non spill’ cocktail glass to our glassware range.
What do you believe wineries can do to drive tourism in wine regions?
D: To not be afraid to promote competitors within the region; we are all a region together and the more people that come to visit, the more we will all prosper. In COVID times, getting online and promoting domestic travel (when permitted) can help, as can ensuing a strong digital presence is maintained and thinking outside the box to bring the cellar door experience to customers at home. We can showcase all the region has to offer to encourage visitors to stay longer. We can use our domestic database and social media channels to reach all parts of Australia.
How can customers connect with your winery (e.g social media, website)?
D: You can find us at www.koonara.com to explore our range of wines. We can be found on Facebook at Koonara Coonawarra Wines and on Instagram via @koonara.
Whether you are a red wine lover or are more interested in supporting sustainable winemaking, Koonara Wines offers certified organic wines that ooze premium quality.
Discover the Koonara Wines difference and support local Australian viticulture by ordering direct from their website today.