THE REAL SEA CHANGE -30 YEARS AHEAD OF THEIR TIME
Galafrey remains family-owned business and all wines are grown, nurturedand bottled on the estate in Mount Barker WA. Established by Ian Tyrer(1946-2003). Galafrey Wines is survived by mother and daughter team, Lindaand Kim Tyrer. Linda and Kim maintain a hands-on role to ensure that the Galafrey philosophy is upheld.
The characteristically cool climate of the district ensures slow ripening of the grapes, which allows for the development of rich flavours and quality grapejuice. Galafrey Wines is committed to producing fruit of the highest quality,with a philosophy that quality fruit is the key to winemaking excellence.
The Great Southern region is one of the remote wine areas of Australia,spread unevenly over an area of 150km from north to south and 100km across east to west. The first vineyard was planted in 1966 and the first wine made in 1972 and all around the town of Mount Barker. Viticulture arrived in Mount Barker in 1964 when Bill Jamieson and Dorham Mann from the WA Agriculture Department were digging holes in the land and following the research carried out by the distinguished climatologist and soil scientist, Dr John Gladstone.
This lead to the Forest Hill Vineyard on the Pearse property,who were farmers in Mount Barker, in 1966. But even before this there were some great names interested in the area of Mount Barker. Early in the century Penfolds Hyland family, then owners of Penfolds, looked over the area at the invitation of the West Australian Government. The problems of clearing natural forest and geographical isolation were too great and the proposal did not proceed. Later, The great Jack Mann (who established the Houghton Brand) visited the district as a first grade cricketer in the years after World War Two, he too was impressed with the climate and with what he saw. When Professor Harold Olmo, of California, came to WA at the government's invitation in 1958 and singled out Margaret River and Lower Great Southern areas as the most suited for viticulture then things really started to move. The first wineries in the area were Alkoomi 1971, Goundrey 1976 , Plantagenet 1968 and Galafrey Wines 1977.
Galafrey Wines is now celebrating their 38th Anniversary in an area rich in history and great personal stories. Many wine writers and journalist wrote Galafrey has an underlying eccentricity. Ian Tyrer had a number of claims to fame, a background in computers that followed into wine and a high pitched, penetrating laugh, which was identifiable by all whom came into contact with him . Ian and Linda Tyrer ventured into viticulture after a career in computers in London and Melbourne. Ian Tyrer was born in Brookton WA and wanted to return to the West and live in the country. And it was from the findings of Dr Gladstone and Bill Jamieson that Galafrey was born. Ian and Linda Tyrer like the pioneers before them dug holes all over WA looking for the right soil and climate for their vineyard before settling 10km west of Mount Barker.
In 1984 Galafrey moved to Albany to an 80 yr old wool store on the foreshore where the winery had a surplus amount of space and the family of three (3) took up residence as well . In 1992 the winery was moved back to Mount Barker to a purpose built shed. At that time was vintage and as grapes were coming in one door, tanks were coming in the other, making for a busy year moving and processing. In 1997 the cellar door sales moved from Albany to the Mount Barker property as more and more people started to visit the region.
In 1985 Galafrey won a trophy in the Mount Barker Wine Show recognising it as the State's premium red wine and Galafrey was the first winery in the area to win an international trophy for their 1991 Riesling in the Sydney International Top 100. And speaking of first Galafrey was the first in the region to produce a sparkling wine with their 1985 Sparkling Cabernet Brut and 1987 Rhine Riesling Brut.
In 2003 the foundations of Galafrey were shook up with the untimely death of Ian Tyrer to cancer. His achievements in the industry were recognised with the Wine Press Club George Mulgrave Award, he received a standing ovation from his peers. And after his death the Ian Tyrer Fund was set up to raise money for the local hospital for a much needed ultrasound. The target was set at $25,000 but $50,000 was raised, a testament to Ian's generous spirit.
In 2003 also saw a dramatic change in the WA wine industry with an increase in vines planted at 165 per cent; the national growth was only 60 per cent. The Great Southern was crushing approx 10,000 tonnes of grapes where as in 1999 only 4500 tonnes of grapes were being produced in the area. With 22,000 ha of grapes grown and a total of 39 labels compare that with Margaret River sits just over 5000 Ha and has 101 labels crushing a total of 22,171 tonnes you can see where the majority of l the grapes are being grown in WA. Also it is interesting to note that in an analysis of the trophy results for the Sydney Royal Wine Show from 2001 and 2005 showed that Clare Valley regions won the most trophies followed by the Hunter Valley, Coonawarra and then the Great Southern.
Today Galafrey has twelve hectares under vine consisting of Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Merlot Grapes. We are also growing Muller-Thurgau, a unique white grape variety that produces a light, flavourful, fruity grape that's low in acid. Galafrey's vines are not irrigated; something quite unusual in these days of mass commercial production. Galafrey prefers low-yielding wine crops with small berries. Although it limits their volume, having smaller fruit fosters an intensity of flavour, with most of the colour and tannin of the grape being concentrated in or near the skin.
"Remembering back to 1977, arriving in Mount Barker four months pregnant, a truck load of furniture, a few thousand grape cuttings- naive but starry-eyed, full of enthusiasm; I have to smile thinking about the TV show Real Sea Change-it seems we were 30 years ahead of our time, when we left our secure well-paid jobs in the computer industry to be pioneers in the Mount Barker wine Industry.
I think we have experienced almost everything you can in the wine industry over the last 30 years. Hail that wiped out 1989 crop, floods, snow, droughts, the dreaded vegetable weevil, snails, locust, birds. Cyclone Alby and lots tail ends of cyclone that dump huge amounts of rain right in the middle vintage. Not to mention the dominance of liquor store market and the famous wine glut" quotes Linda Tyrer
Mount Barker, Western Australia
Mount Barker this cool subregion is generally regarded as the most important subregion of the Great Southern. Ripening month and average temperatures in the established Mount Barker vineyards are significantly lower than in the Médoc, and significantly lower than in the lower warmer Bordeaux appellations such as Saint Emilion and Pomerol. Average ripening period sunshine hours at Mount Barker together with the whole season measure of sunshine hours are nearly identical with those of Bordeaux. Situated in the middle of Great Southern, with strong continental aspects together with marri soils and lateritic gravely and sandy loams provided from the granite rock backdrop the region is suited to Riesling, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.
Mount Barker is a town of about 1,700 people on the Albany Hwy and is the administrative centre of the Shire of Planatagenet in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. The shire has a population of around 4,300 people. The town was named after the nearby hill, which it is believed was named by Dr TB Wilson RN, in honour of Captain Collect Barker
The Great Southern Wine Region, Western Australia
The Great Southern region is the largest, in area, of all wine regions in Australia and produces 37% of wine grapes produced in Western Australia. The five sub-regions of Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and the Porongorups have vastly different climatic conditions which means a visit to the Great Southern can be an exciting experience as the visitor moves about our diverse region.
WA's coolest wine-growing region, the Great Southern boasts the warm days and cool nights that are so beneficial for premium wine-grape growing. The regional rainfall average is a relatively low 600-750mm per annum,helping promote more intense fruit flavours.
Australian Wine Industry and Australian Wine Regions
The Australian wine industry is the fourth-largest exporter in the world, exporting over 400 million litres a year to a large international export market that includes "old world" wine-producing countries such as France, Italy and Spain There is also a significant domestic market for Australian wines, with Australians consuming over 400 million litres of wine per year. The wine industry is a significant contributor to the Australian Economy through production, employment, export and tourism.