Sam is a 6th generation Barossan and has been making wine for over 30 years. His family history in winemaking and grape growing has continued with every generation since the 1840’s. He has worked in many winemaking roles over the years, including Chief Winemaker for St Hugo and Wyndham Estate, and Group Red and Fortified Winemaker for Orlando Wines where he managed an annual crush of over 60 million litres of wine from grapes sourced around the country.
Sam has been fortunate enough to eat and drink his way around the world while enjoying working vintages overseas in the USA, Spain and Hungary, and consulting on projects in Argentina, China, NZ, Georgia and India. He has experienced many years of wine judging as a senior judge in Australian capital city wine shows, as well as internationally in Hong Kong and Japan.
Their wines have received many awards including the prestigious Red Wine of Provenance Trophy at the 2017 Australian National Wine Show, the Most Successful Small Producer Trophy at the Barossa Wine Show 2017, the Best Single Vineyard Wine Trophy and the Best Wine from a Small Producer Trophy at the Barossa Wine Show 2012.
The Red Wine of Provenance Trophy is awarded to outstanding Australian wines that have shown a consistency of style and quality over many years. It celebrates wines with a sense of place and an ability to age and improve in bottle. Three vintages of the same wine, with the same label, spread across at least ten years are judged as a group. The winning wine was the Red Art Single Vineyard Shiraz from the 2016, 2010 and 2006 vintages. Winning the coveted Wine of Provenance trophy is a huge achievement for any winery as it is the only award that judges three wines together, not just one individual wine.
The Rojomoma wines are extremely rare. They make less than 1000 cases each year and every vintage sells out quite quickly. By hand pruning and precisely managing the vineyard, they achieve very low yields. They handpick their grapes and carefully craft their wine to truly reflect the special site on which they are grown.
Their 5ha vineyard in the Ebenezer sub-region is a fantastic site for red grape growing. The dry grown Grenache vines were planted in 1886, the Shiraz, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon were planted in the late 1990s, and the Tempranillo was planted in 2005. The vines are hand pruned, shoot thinned and handpicked; treating each vine individually to get the best from it. The soil is loam over red and yellow clay and below that is an alkaline calcrete layer.
In the winemaking process, they use the traditional methods such as open fermenters and basket pressing, combined with modern approaches including wild yeast, barrel ageing on yeast lees and whole bunch ferment. They create wine with restrained use of oak that is true to its single-vineyard origins. The wine is aged in used French oak for only 12-18 months and then bottle aged. The flagship wine, "Raj's Pick Shiraz" does utilise new French oak.
They seek to get the best flavours from the small berries typical in the Ebenezer region whilst balancing with savoury flavours, acid and silky tannins. The oak is usually old French oak to minimise oak influences and maximise the berry flavour.
They describe their wine as more European in style, more savoury and food-friendly rather than big in alcohol and oak. Their wines are deep and concentrated but still elegant.
Bernie is also the author and photographer of a highly regarded book "Portraits of Barossa Winemakers" which is a collection of photographic portraits of winemakers with their hobbies – an insight into their personality, beyond their wine brand.
After achieving the position of Best Wine Writing book in Australia for the Gourmand International Book Awards 2016, Bernie’s book then went on the compete for the Best in the World (Wine writing) in the Gourmand International Book Awards. The top 3 books in each category are awarded “Best in the World”. “True Stories: Portraits of Barossa Winemakers” came 3rd in the Wine Writing Category and so can now proudly wear the title of “Best in the World” in the Gourmand International Book Awards. The international competition is like a ‘Book Olympics’, with countries around the globe competing for the top three positions in their category.
Several of the winemakers that Barossa Reserve sources wine from are featured in the book.