In March, we visited Soul Growers in Australia’s Barossa Valley and discovered two things. First, Soul Growers wines are fantastic. Second, the guys behind Soul Growers are as hilarious as they are dedicated to making fine wine. Soul Growers has a unique concept, with winemaking revolving around the growers who create the fruit. It all began in 1998 when four friends in the corporate world — Stu, Paul, Tom and Leigh — decided to join forces and create wines and a brand that spoke to the Barossa.
Stu hosted our visit, which was simultaneously fun and educational. And wow, we love Soul Growers wines. We are not surprised that renowned Australian wine critic James Halliday gave Soul Growers five stars. And the good news – their wines are available in the U.S. and Canada.
Soul Growers Cellar Door
Experienced and award-winning winemakers Paul Heinicke and Stu Bourne quickly gathered a strong following for Soul Growers. “Soul Growers name comes from the soul of the Barossa Valley – the history of the vineyards, family growers, the handing down of knowledge from the generations and establishing a winemaking style for generations to come.”
Their motto was evident during our visit to the Cellar Door: “The essence of what we strive for is to ensure a lifestyle that is good for the Soul; wine, food, family, music, mates and fun.”
Soul Growers wines are crafted from Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre/Mataro, Grenache and Pinot Noir grapes. We tasted through a breathtaking lineup.
Soul Growers Tasting Lineup 2009-2016
2016 Soul Growers El Mejor is a gorgeous blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), and 15% each of Shiraz and Matero (also known as Mourvèdre). El Mejor is the Spanish word for the best, which is an apt name for this beauty. The words elegant, rich and smooth came to mind as we sipped on this pour of heaven in a glass. El Mejor is very drinkable now, but can be cellared for 30 years. Yes, we simply had to take a bottle home.
2016 Soul Growers Hampel is a single-vineyard Barossa Valley Shiraz. This lovely wine reflects the red soils on the Hampel family vineyard in the Northern Grounds. A beautiful color, Hampel features appealing aromatics and fruit flavors. The oak is shining through right now, so give it a few years in the cellar to integrate, and then Hampel will be a major star. Or if you have lots of patience, this wine can be cellared for 25 years.
2009 Soul Growers Slow Grown Shiraz boasts both age and beauty. We were very lucky indeed to taste this 2009 vintage of the flagship Soul Growers red. Sweet and juicy, this wine showcases a Barossa heart, depth, weight and power. Be sure to decant before tasting this seductive wine. We also enjoyed the 2016 release, which you can see in the next photo. Of note, its intense rich flavors are both friendly and elegant at the same time.
2016 Soul Growers Persistence Grenache was so good that we brought a bottle home. We smiled when reading James Halliday’s note: “This is a very enjoyable wine, the second glass apt to follow the first without undue delay.” We couldn’t agree more. Think strawberries, red cherries, and raspberries, with a hint of white pepper and spice.
Soul Growers Tasting Lineup 2017-2018
2017 Soul Growers Serendipitous and 2017 Equilibrium could be paired with numerous dishes. For example, Serendipitous Pinot Noir from Adelaide Hills would be a perfect complement to turkey or salmon. Well-balanced but young, we recommend decanting it before it graces your dinner table. But make no mistake, this Pinot is made for drinking now. Meanwhile, Soul Growers’ distinct Equilibrium GSM could be paired with grilled meat, stew, dishes with mushroom sauces, or pizza. Equilibrium is a lovely, well-integrated and structured blend of Grenache (35%), Shiraz (32%), and Mataro (27%), with a touch of CInsault. The dark fruit flavors are layered and well balanced with light red fruits, and notes of pepper and spice.
2018 Soul Growers Soul Sister Rosé blends Cinsault and Grenache, and of note, “is dedicated to the soul mates we have in our life – without them life would be very different.” This rosé has an unusual dark pink color, and features flavors of fresh, juicy strawberries. We found it to be a refreshing treat during a hot summer day in the Barossa. Pair this easy-drinking wine with seafood or salads, poolside, lakeside or on the deck. Or take it to that summer garden party.
Many thanks to Stu for the hospitality, education and fun during our visit to Soul Growers. This was a highlight of our trip to Australia. And thank you, Lynda Schenk, for introducing us!
We definitely recommend Soul Growers wines. Did we mention they are available in North America?
Margot and Dave