The Winemaker Story
“So much about winemaking is about feel. The beauty of it though is taking your gut feel and creativity, and blending that with the science to make truly exceptional wines ” ~ Adam Clay, Winemaker.
WHAT STARTED THE DREAM?
For almost two decades now, Adam has been intent on tasting the best the world’s wine regions have to offer and has held an unwavering focus on crafting the highest quality wines.
Having met his wife Marie who also studied Oenology at the University of Adelaide they travelled and worked extensively after graduation throughout Australia, Italy, France and Spain, gaining appreciation for European wines and beginning to hone their now highly educated palates.
Whilst in Italy they worked vintage in the Tuscan cellar at Frescobaldi’s, gaining invaluable hands-on experience and a perspective on techniques and approaches to winemaking that broadened their mind beyond a typical Australian winery. Building on this, Adam travelled abroad again completing a vintage at Pellegrini in California. Here he worked with Pinot Noir from the Russian River, focussing in on small batch, premium, hand-crafted wines.
After moving to the Barossa in 2006, Adam spent a decade as a Winemaker for Penfolds, one of the Barossa Valley’s most iconic wineries. Here he worked with premium parcels of red varietals predominately from the Barossa Valley but also from all the premium wine regions of South Australia. His specialty and real passion though were in crafting Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro varietals and blends. The range of fruit he was privileged to work with gave him an in depth understanding of these varietals and how to bring out the best in each parcel of fruit he works with.
Throughout his time in the Barossa, Adam has spent significant time in vineyards, assessing quality and ripeness and making the critical decisions surrounding picking times and batching. To see the fruit in the vineyard, to daily ferment tastings and then blending the finished wines has allowed him to build an intuitive connection with the vineyards and wines he works with to craft truly remarkable expressions.
Following his time at Penfolds Adam took on an adventurous opportunity to work in China, across the many vineyards and wineries in their rapidly growing and dynamic industry. Here he saw a diversity in viticulture and winemaking in regions from the East Coast of Penglai to the central region of Ningxia and the far West of Xinjiang.
During 2018, a small vineyard located in Moppa that exclusively provided fruit to Penfolds was for sale. Knowing the quality of the fruit and its history, Adam and his family purchased this property, finally starting the long-held dream of making wine from a family owned vineyard, the beginning of the Arila Gardens story.