- Author Joshua Elias
- Photographer James Morgan
- Location Glasshaus, Richmond Victoria
A true Australian treasure, Maggie Beer joins us for a glass of chardonnay: we talk about daily routine, dining at home and the passing of seasons.
Cradling a glass of the 2012 Curly Flat Chardonnay, Maggie Beer blithely jests, “It is lovely on the nose. I drink a lot of white wine but I have to admit, for me, life is too short to drink something like sauvignon blanc!” We were warned prior to Beer’s arrival: sauvignon blanc is simply a no-go. Perhaps it is the aromatic intensity of the style or the residual sugar it tends to hold in the New World … nonetheless, Beer has well and truly turned her back on sauvignon. “When I drink a white wine, I prefer an aged riesling, sémillon, chardonnay or viognier.”
Having lived in the Barossa Valley for over 40 years, one would expect Beer to hold firm opinions about wine. On learning the ways in which her history is tethered to the wine world, this expectation seems all the more valid. Along with her husband Colin, Beer began farming pheasants on a rural property near Nuriootpa in the early 1970s. This pastoral home gave life to a list of family businesses—initially solely the pheasant farm but subsequently also the aptly named Barossa Pheasant Farm Restaurant—however, the couple saw their land as an opportunity to propagate grapevines under the vinous Barossa Valley culture. At first, they could not afford to undertake the task of winemaking, instead supporting themselves by selling grapes to Yalumba, Orlando Wines, Torbrek Vintners and Rockford Wines. During this time, Beer came to define her own expression of the Barossa Valley with a variety of grape-derived products, including cabernet paste, cabernet sauce and of course, her famous verjuice. When Beer and her husband finally reached a position in which they could craft their own wines, they released a small range under the labels Pheasant Farm Wines and Beer Brothers Wines. “Torbrek used to make them and Pete Schell makes them now. We are serious but small.”
“I’m an all seasons person. I love the sea in winter.
I love the distinctions you get between seasons.
That’s what I love because I’m a produce-driven cook.” MB