Lake Breeze: Behind Halliday’s Best Value Winery 2022
Lake Breeze Wines - Halliday’s Best Value Winery 2022
We’d like to say a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to the Follett family and the team at Lake Breeze. The Langhorne Creek region of SA is a bit of an underdog. With solid reds that rival its flashy neighbours to the north, it’s no surprise that this year’s Halliday Best Value Winery comes from this gem on the Coorong.
As you drive south from the Adelaide Hills or east from McLaren Vale, you come across the gently rolling plains of the Langhorne Creek wine region. It’s a relaxed kind of place, where the sun shines and the cooling winds (Lake Doctor) come off Lake Alexandrina to freshen you (and the vines) up. It’s a region famous for aromatic cabernets, and gaining increasing attention for malbec. Oh, and they make wonderful shiraz too.
These epic old vines
On the lands of the Ngarrindjeri people, Langhorne Creek has a long and rich history of winemaking - in fact it’s a viticultural region that’s over 160 years old! The Follett family have been growing grapes here for over 130 years, and turned their hand to winemaking in the 1980s. Some of their oldest grenache vines are nearly 90 years old, which means huge potential for deep and detailed wines, but also the need for a deep understanding of how to work with such old vines.
I had the chance to chat with Lake Breeze winemaker Greg Follett recently and on the topic of these old vines, he commented “these vines are hand pruned and harvested, and we need to use different equipment to even fit down the rows. We are also fortunate to have some great old cabernet and shiraz which were planted in the 1960’s.”
The Follett Family
It seems all of the Follett family have a role at Lake Breeze, across the many arms of the business, in the vineyard and winery, cellar door and restaurant, and all of the behind the scenes roles too. When asked whether he knew from a young age that he’d end up winemaker, Greg answered that “our farm was a combination of a dairy farm and grape growing, and diversifying into wine came about when my brothers and I were teenagers. I always thought I’d go to university, and then work experience at Bleasdale Winery when I was 14 years old sowed the seed.” The first Lake Breeze wine was made from the 1987 vintage, and Greg started the Roseworthy wine course the year after, as an 18 year old.
I'll leave the maths to you on exactly how old Greg is, but I will say - that’s a LOT of vintages!
“What was your favourite vintage” is one of my favourite questions to ask winemakers.
The answer is always intriguing and insightful, though some take the opportunity to grandstand over a three day ‘stage’ at Château So-and-So. Greg’s insight to the early days at Wolf Blass speak of a wonderful moment in Australian wine and perhaps simpler days.
“One of my first jobs off the family farm was at Wolf Blass Bilyara, as a 17 year old in 1987. This was in the days of the ‘Blass chook sheds’ before the major expansion and buy-outs. There was a small crew and a great camaraderie. Vintage is still the best time of the year, working bloody hard but having a lot of laughs along the way.”
Exploring the region
For someone new to the Langhorne Creek region, Lake Breeze is a fantastic place to start exploring. As the team at Halliday Wine Companion have highlighted - their wines are incredibly good value, so it’s not a matter of deciding which couple of bottles you’ll spend your hard earned cash on, but rather filling up the boot with some of the region’s best. That said - if it’s rare and collectable wines that you are seeking - The Drake cabernet shiraz and ‘Naught Nanny Rare frontignac will do the trick.
Keen to learn more about Halliday’s Best Value Winery?
Join Lake Breeze winemaker Greg Follett and myself for an evening of virtual tasting, from the comfort of your home. Whether you’re a dedicated wine enthusiast or simply keen to learn more, this virtual tasting is not to be missed!
I asked Greg which of the Lake Breeze wines would be the best place to start for a Langhorne Creek novice and he said, “our estate Lake Breeze cabernet sauvignon - is our most awarded wine and I feel represents all that is great about Langhorne Creek. Otherwise, it would have to be our Bernoota, shiraz/cabernet (included in Halliday's Best Value Winery Trio). It has been one of the most consistent and great value wines in the country for over 30 years.”