In vino veritas

Mark Bollen and his wife Skye had a dream of making premium wine, and in 2014 started working a plot in the Clare Valley, in so doing becoming the fourth generation of his family to farm in the region – his Great-Grandfather and Grandfather had reared Angus cattle there.

The Sussex Squire ethos is putting a lot of passion into what they do, and taking of pride in presenting their wines and talking about them to those who walk through the cellar door.

Being in a fairly remote spot, off the main route through the valley, was a concern, so Mark and Skye invested time in meeting and talking to the Clare Valley wine and tourism community. “We were rewarded with some tremendous support from local restaurants, hotels, cellar doors and the Visitor Centre,” Mark says, “which helped promote our brand and refer to visitors in the Clare Valley to our cellar door.”

Sussex Squire’s rapid ascension to join the ranks of the Clare’s premium producers was underlined with three major medals at the 2017 Clare Valley Wine Show. “The warm and generous congratulations we received from the Clare community was almost bigger thrill than winning the awards, it was a very special day for Skye and myself,” he says.

And the gongs kept coming in 2018. The

JRS Barrel Selection Shiraz 2016 received a Double Gold Medal and their new Shiraz, The Windmill Block Shiraz 2017, won Silver at the Melbourne International Wine Competition. As a result of these results Sussex Squire Wines was named Clare Valley Winery of the Year 2018 by the Melbourne International Wine Competition.

The focus early this year is experimenting with some alternate varieties. Mark and Skye have expanded the vineyard with a view to planting Malbec, Mataro, Sangiovese and Nero D’Avola. “We hope to develop our vineyards so that we grow and produce all our own red fruit,” Mark says. “We are also in the early stages of planning a new cellar door building in 2019/20 to take in the view across the vineyard. These plans should develop in the later part of this year”.

2019 will be Sussex Squire’s sixth vintage, autumn is the busiest time of year. As this magazine hits the shelves Mark and Skye will be have picked their Shiraz and will be flat out for bringing their fruit into the winery and starting the ferments to produce the wines that will re-stock the cellar door.

This story first appeared in issue 24 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine.

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