Samuel’s Gorge is a reflection of soul: an expression of place and an extension of its people. The winery and Cellar Door are perched atop one of the highest points on the Southern ridge of the Vales and overlook the ancient and awe inspiring Onkaparinga Gorge.
Winemaker Justin McNamee first swung open the doors of Samuel’s Gorge winery in 2005, having bottled two vintages of the namesake label. Jamaican born, he was raised near Victoria’s Yarra Valley and began working amongst the vines as a lad where a curiosity for the winemaking process was sparked. He exhibited an incredible nose for quality and a discerning palate very early on, and it became apparent that he was destined for the art of winemaking.
After studying at South Australia’s Roseworthy College, Justin spent years travelling through wine regions across the globe gaining insight and gleaning knowledge from a myriad of talented winemakers and their connection to their regions. He eventually gravitated toward McLaren Vale and after a decade with South Australia’s iconic Tatachilla winery he stumbled upon an opportunity to breathe life into an enduring dream.
The unique philosophy Samuel’s Gorge strives to maintain and uphold is that of peasant culture. Here in the 162-year-old barn, age old, traditional and organic winemaking practices and processes are applied and it’s all within arms reach of visitors. It is a hands-on, working winery and visitors are encouraged to get involved wherever possible.
Vintage is a time of comradery and community at Samuel’s Gorge, with the Cellar Door team taking any willing participant through to the open ferments, occasionally throwing them knee deep into a crimson ferment to help in the job of ‘breaking up the cap’ – the solid mass of grapes that floats on the surface of a ferment.
Samuel’s Gorge wines embraces the unique fruit flavour brought about by an ancient and diverse geology of the region. McLaren Vale has become home to a diverse range of classic Australian and alternative Spanish and Italian varieties, thriving in the temperate, maritime climate.
Samuel’s Gorge focuses on grenache, tempranillo, mourvèdre, graciano and shiraz, and blends of these varietals in the Icon series. The wines are rustic, textural and earthy, reflective of the house they are produced in. Justin’s penchant for individuality sees every vintage and each varietal inspired by the season and the house. The winery’s ardent followers flock in their droves to the annual release, held at Easter each year, which explodes into festive frivolity to celebrate the fruits of the past few years of labour.
The view across the Onkaparinga Gorge over the timeworn, hand-built stone wall is one of nature’s true masterpieces, and a treasure to share with visitors. Customers park themselves on the verandah with glass or bottle at the ready. You can often find Justin and the friendly folk who, in the words of Justin, ‘flog grog’, enjoying the company of new found friends over a glass of red. Your company will be warmly welcomed.