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Langhorne Creek winery, Bleasdale isn’t out to be the biggest of them all. “We just want to be a winery that’s well respected,” general manager Martin Strachan says. “And true to our roots.”
Those roots stem back to 1850, when Bleasdale Vineyards was established by Frank Potts. The first 30 acres of Shiraz and Verdelho were planted soon after.
The property is located on the region’s wide floodplains, where early grape growers harnessed the Bremer River’s natural flooding and Frank developed a system of levees and floodgates to capture and divert water and trap nutrient-rich silt across the entire vineyard. The vigour in growth caused by this natural abundance of water sometimes presented challenges but it is now managed by modern viticultural practices. Over the years, further varieties were planted, including Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.
Bleasdale’s fifth and sixth -generation family members continue to contribute and capture the essence of what makes the region’s red wines so special – vibrancy, harmony and texture. In 2011, they began sourcing Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc from the cooler Adelaide Hills region, and quickly built a reputation for quality and value white wines.
They’ve won awards for their efforts. In 2018, senior winemaker Paul Hotker was awarded Wine Companion Winemaker of the Year by James Halliday. “Over time, Paul has put his thumbprint on our wines and they’re kicking goals,” Martin says.
Halliday famously named Langhorne Creek the, “Most underrated region in Australia”. The Halliday Wine Companion 2018 edition rated a number of Bleasdale wines 95 or above, and Bleasdale has retained its Halliday red five-star status for the fifth year in a row.
“Bleasdale has more than 165 years of history behind it,” Paul said after winning the coveted award. “In another 165 years, I don’t want people to talk about the wines that Hotker made; I want them to recognise these wines are good because they are made from superb quality grapes from Langhorne Creek and the Adelaide Hills that were treated with care and respect.”
Whether it’s a $12 or $70 wine, a Sparkling Shiraz, a single-vineyard Malbec or the Frank Potts Cabernet blend, Bleasdale wines convey a story in the glass that substantiates its history, diversity and, increasingly, its pedigree.
The cellar door is open seven days a week and is an impressive place in which to try them. Visitors can walk through parts of the winery to see old hand-hewn red gum vats and the famous 1892 3.5-tonne lever basket press.
To experience the best of the region, stay awhile and meet the locals. “There’s a level of humility in the people and families that live here,” Martin says. “They are true farming people and have a lovely approach to life – they don’t take themselves too seriously.”