When the sun rises over Lyndoch, the first place its rays hit is Hemera Estate. The 45-hectare vineyard, appropriately named after the Greek goddess of daylight, has been in operation for more than 100 years, producing a wide range of wines, including riesling, chardonnay, semillon, tempranillo, shiraz, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, cabernet franc and mataro.
The combination of increased natural light and its unique position means that grapes are picked earlier than others in the valley as the flavour and sugar ripeness tend to happen in unison about a week prior to other vineyards. This allows Hemera Estate to retain a natural freshness and elegance in its final product.
A small team is responsible for every part of the business, from growing the grapes, making the wine and packing the orders to selling the wine and greeting visitors at the Cellar Door.
Hemera Estate’s Winemaker, Alex MacClelland, was bitten by the wine bug while working in marketing, so he moved his family to Adelaide where he could study a Graduate Diploma in Oenology. Once graduated, Alex experienced winemaking adventures in the Rhone Valley, Burgundy, the Barossa Valley and New Zealand before returning to South Australia. His love of the Barossa saw him return there in 2011, where he spent three years at Schild Estate making internationally recognised, multi award-winning wines, before joining the Hemera team.
Alex’s philosophy is to deliver wines that are true expressions of the land that they come from, offering complexity, finesse and refreshment. Keeping things simple in the cellar is key, Alex said, “I see the role of the winemaker as that of a carer for the wine. Similar to a parent or teacher, you can’t tell the wine what it is going to be, you have to nurture and take care of it so that it can express itself to the fullest”.
The undulating hills of the vineyard result in altitudes ranging from 200 to 250 metres above sea level. The varieties are planted facing south to benefit from the cooling southerly gully breezes while the majority of the reds are tilted northeast to take full advantage of the morning sun. Soils vary from deep clay loam for the cabernet franc to sandy loam across the Block 6 Shiraz and shallow rocky ironstone over limestone for its fabled Block 3A Shiraz.
The Hemera team pride themselves on making wine that is elegant, shows great purity of fruit and has great character. The flagship is the JDR Shiraz, named in honour of Joseph Darius Ross, the 86-year-old founder of the original Ross Estate, where Hemera now stands. It won the Trophy for Best Barossa Shiraz at the London International Wine Challenge in 2015, where it was described as: “Polished, classy and sexy. Immaculately groomed with seductive layers moderated by refreshing acidity and suave tannins. Mint, morello cherries, plums and all spice.”
Stop by the Cellar Door to take a peek at the barrels and try all the wines for yourself. With an open fireplace, comfy seating and a fantastic view of the vineyards, leaving may be difficult.