Brothers in Arms

"Growing grapes and making wine isn't easy ... but it's a lot easier when you do it well! There were three motivating forces behind establishing Brothers in Arms: we wanted to get away from simply being a grape supplier; we wanted to benchmark our Metala vineyard fruit quality for our own interest; and we wanted to make some wine as a hobby.A pretty serious and expensive hobby it's turned out to be! Metala has been my family's property since the 1850s and it's also the name of the premium label owned by Fosters made entirely of our fruit. The original plan, back in the early 1990s, was quite simple - grow the grapes, get a local processor to make the wine, then bottle it and sell it. It was decided to select a single varietal as a flagship wine and focus wholeheartedly on it. Shiraz was the obvious choice as it was the first variety planted on the place and has always produced fantastic wines.It started out with mucking around with small parcels of fruit with my father. At that time it was really just a hobby for us and it gave us something of our own to drink. In 1998 we took a small amount of fruit and turned it into 500 cases of Shiraz at Lake Breeze winery in Langhorne Creek. It was so bloody good that we didn't know what to do with it! We couldn't drink it all, so we started to think seriously about the future.Right around this time a pesky American came and knocked on our door. As it turned out it was Dan Phillips, a leading distributor from California, who was making regular trips to Australia looking for high-end lots of premium Shiraz - he felt there was going to be a market for it in the States. Somehow he picked up on us and he annoyed us so much that I gave him some unlabelled samples to test. He flew back to LA, phoned me four days later and told me to get a label on the rest as he could sell it! This led to our next problem as we didn't even have a name. We rang Ian Kidd, a designer in Adelaide, who came to Langhorne Creek and spent half a day with us. He came back with the Brothers in Arms label, and an awfully big bill, and we loved it. We released the 1998 vintage at Wine Australia in Melbourne in 2000 and it sold out within six weeks. That really blew us away! At the same time, Dan had taken 200 cases to America and it received excellent scores from Robert Parker and Wine Spectator. We also started developing markets in Asia and Canada - it had begun.Our next problem was that we were running out of wine having made a similar amount in 1998 and 1999. We decided to make 4,500 cases for the 2000 vintage, but that was stretching the limits at Lake Breeze. We couldn't grow any further there so we decided to build our own winery at Metala. We knew we had some special fruit and we wanted total control of the winemaking process, from the pruning regimes to the bottling line. So after going to the bank and borrowing an awful lot of money we began building the winery. The initial piers for the sheds were poured on November 11th, 2001 and it was ready for a March 15th vintage in 2002 - this was no easy process. My wife Liz and young son, Myles and I spent 27 hours a day, seven days a week at the winery managing the project to meet the March 15 deadline. We got there, just. We crushed our first 300 tonnes in the winery, which is stage one capacity, in March 2002. Plans for stage two and three are ready to go, but we're not in any rush. Our growth from 500 cases to 9,000 cases from 1999 to 2001 was quite dramatic and we have produced around 15,000 cases each year since 2003.Our aim has always been to give the consumer a high end wine experience at a reasonable price. The Brothers in Arms Shiraz retails for around A$40 which represents cracking good value. We also wanted to expand our range of wines so in 2002 produced the No 6 Shiraz Cabernet (around A$23) which is a recognition of our children Myles and Emily as the 6th generation to live on Metala. This wine received the George Mackay Trophy for the “Best Australian Export Wine 2004” from a field of 13,000 wines. As an award this was particularly satisfying as it truly recognised the quality of our fruit production. While we sell 40% of our wine in Australia, our aim is to continually find new markets and spread the word. As well as being well in the US, Europe, UK and Canada markets we have recently formed a new partnership which is taking us into China, one of the most exciting projects yet. We hope you enjoy sharing our story and our

  • Brothers in Arms Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

    [SOLD-OUT] Brothers in Arms Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

    Region: SA- Langhorne Creek

    Gary Walsh 92 Points!"Lashings of rich dark chocolate, dark fruit and mint backed with meaty toasty oak - there's a little pepper in there too I think. Plump and full bodied with grainy (yet smooth) tannins, excellent density and length with a toasty...