"..How hard can it be to grow grapes!!.."
It was 1997 and I just bought the place ... the first question was ... What am I am going to do with this land and how can I make a dollar out of it . My father was into drinking wine and all the pretentious things about wine ...so I thought... "how hard could it be to grow some grapes !!!"
I ventured down south of Griffith, NSW and bought my first batch of shiraz vine cuttings. They were clones from Barossa Valley , called BVRC 12. With the guarantee that the irrigation drippers will arrive soon, the planting begun in earnest. Four weeks later, after the driest October/November for a long time, the corresponding delay of the promised irrigation drippers, spending four weeks up and down the rows with an extended garden hose and buckets - trying to keep the cuttings alive - was a fitting initiation .
From the first batch I lost 90% of the planting ... or to the optimist the glass was 10% full.
Being a firm believer in the fine institutions of the university of life and the school of hard knocks, I found myself humbly enrolling in a viticulture course.
Seeing what was needed, I then took the leap and bought "root stock".... with great success ... the cup was then overwhelmingly 90% full.
So now I know how it is to grow grapes and never the less ventured into growing Cabernet Savignon and Riesling.
"... How hard could it be to make wine !!"
I picked my first 200 kg of grapes, proudly thinking to myself.."I'm on the road" and " McGrath - Grange" sounds good!! Within a short period of time this moment of grandeur in the penthouse soon found me wallowing in the depth of the outhouse. Given the non descript vinegar I first produced. Smartly I found myself once again relying on the previously mention fine institutions and enrolled in a wine production course. The learning curve continued with my first major volume vintage of 2003. I made 3000 litres of shiraz, which was acceptable to many but did not meet my expectation of a classic - Cool Climate Wine - so I tipped out all the shiraz near the chicken coup - thats 4000 bottles of wine. (The chooks where quite haaappyy for quite some time). The Cabernet Savignon of that year was outstanding.
I did achieve in 2002 and produced a medal winning wine albeit a small quantity. This gave me the ethusiasm and confidence to produce not just wine, but wine of first class distinction and quality.
"McGrathWines- We're on the Map"
2004 saw McGrathWines win 5 medals for the Shiraz and Cabernet at various prestigious wine shows. This was backed up with medals for the recently released Chardonnay and Cabernet Savignon in 2005 and 2006.
The 2006 reisling, after tasting from the vats, promises to release something special.
We have had a lot of help over the years from family and friends... While it is not enough... THANK YOU for your help !!
The journey so far has been rewarding.
Robyn, Jessica, Ben and I look forward to many great vintages to come.