The Willows Vineyard - the best value in the Barossa
“You just never know where you are with The Willows. Well, you always know where you are, in that The Willows is always going to supply some of the most joyously lush and pleasurable wines in your year’s drinking. But will it be the Shiraz or the Cabernet?” Oz Clarke
The story of The Willows reflects the history of the Barossa Valley. It goes back seven generations to 1845 when Johann Gottfried ‘JG’ Scholz and his family fled the religious persecution of his Silesian homeland, to emigrate to the other side of the world, settling in the Barossa Valley, amongst a welcoming hub of like-minded Lutherans.
At Light Pass, Johann established a mixed farm of sheep, cows, crops and fruit trees as well as a few grape vines along the alluvial bank of the North Para River.
Johann had spent his early career as a bonesetter in the Prussian army, and it was these skills which were in demand as the early Barossa settlers had to contend with the daily bumps, breaks and bruises of their new environment.
When one of the Barossa’s founding Angas family bestowed 500 pounds for a perfectly mended femur in the early 1850’s, Johann’s saw the potential and his original cottage became the site of the Barossa’s first private hospital. Three successive generations followed ‘JG’, maintaining the tradition of ‘bonesetting’ and massage learnt from their father.
In 1936 a new vineyard was established, planted with Semillon and Shiraz and to which has been added Riesling, Grenache, Mataro, Cabernet Sauvignon and more Shiraz over the years by successive generations.
While the old Willows Hospital closed in the 60’s, the Scholz family continue to reside there, and take pride in the family legacy.
In 1980, when sixth generation Peter Scholz was looking for work experience during his winemaking studies at Roseworthy, Peter Lehmann offered him a job “working the Potter fermenters” at his then brand new winery.
In 1982 he was appointed Assistant Winemaker, supporting winemakers Andrew Wigan and Charlie Melton. Even after starting the Willows Vineyard label in 1987 (with PL’s blessing and encouragement) he stayed on until 1999.
He then stepped down from full time winemaking to focus on the Willows Vineyard, but continued to return to PL as vintage winemaker, consulting and supporting the young winemakers there.
“Long vintage nights, stuck ferments, heatwave rushes, floods…even a hurricane that swept away the winery’s stainless steel tanks rolling them towards the Para River like tin cans” – he has seen it all over the years.
Today, his Willows Vineyard wines are some of the best value wines produced in the Barossa. The vineyard soils range from deep alluvial soils to red brown loam over clay and tough sandy soils where old shiraz vines produce fruit of outstanding quality.
The climate is distinguished by its cooling gully breezes, which blow off the North Para river, cooling the vinyard and allowing the vines to undergo a gradual ripening, giving the wines a touch of elegance not seen elsewhere in the Barossa.
When I first visited The Willows in the early 1990’s (at the late Bob McLean’s suggestion) in its tiny northern Barossa location, I was amused by the sign proudly welcoming you to Light Pass, founded in 1845 and population 30. Although some wag had crossed it out and written 31. It has been at the centre of much of the Barossa’s history.
The 2016 vintage was a stand out vintage in the Barossa. A warm, dry Spring was followed by a relatively mild summer with good rain in early January. The grapes harvested had dense colour and rich, vibrant flavours.
2016 Willows Vineyard Barossa Shiraz 14.8% £108.00 per 6x75cl
“This is a delicious and surprisingly elegant wine, offering solid value.” James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion
Peter Scholz produces this single vineyard Barossa Shiraz from 80 year old vines planted on the banks of the North Para River, which winds its way down from the hills to the Barossa Valley. While other more fashionable brands have shot up in price, it remains outstanding value. It’s better than many Barossa Shiraz that sell for twice the price!
Bright crimson in the glass, the wine has aromas of berry fruits, a touch of dark chocolate with hints of sweet spice. Soft and velvety on the palate, the dark berry fruits intensify to reveal great depth of flavour. The soft, ripe tannins and great length make this great drinking now, while it will cellar well for a decade or so.
2016 Willows Vineyard Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon 14.5% £108.00 per 6x75cl
The Cabernet block was planted over deep alluvial soil in a loop of the North Para river over 50 years ago. It is shaded by eucalypt trees and benefits from the cool gully breezes that follow the river down from the hills giving the wine an elegance not often found in Barossa wines.
The wine is deep crimson red in colour, with aromas of blackcurrant, spiced cherry and mint chocolate. The palate delivers weight and fruit generosity with savoury spice adding further depth and complexity.
The finish has a silky texture and the soft tannin gives the wine immediate drinking appeal, while its complexity and depth in structure will reward those with the patience to cellar it for another 5-10 years.
The Willows wines represent the very best value in the Barossa today. Order your stocks today, go to the Willows Vineyard