There’s a fellow driving from Clare to town this weekend for the annual Cellar Door Festival at the Adelaide Convention Centre who’s laughing all the way, somewhat bemused that after 25 vintages he’s cracked the big time.
He’s got a place at one of the festival’s feature events, the Emerging Winemakers Kitchen, joining 20 or so other SA “up and coming winemakers and brands” as they shed some light on the latest in the wine biz.
That bloke grinning from ear to ear is none other than Kevin Mitchell, better known as the long-serving winemaker at Killikanoon, but also strictly in the right place at the festival because with his wife Kathleen Bourne, he’s also crafting his own Woodvale Vintners label with a focus, of course, on riesling but also shiraz, plus a bit of extra interest from grenache, mataro, cabernet, pinot gris and semillon.
Despite Kevin’s impressive winemaking track record, he’s still learning, he says, especially with the changing business side of things.
“It’s been great to see a new label take shape, but you soon learn you have to sell wine if you make it,” Kevin says.
Like a lot of the emerging youngsters, Kevin has family history in the wine world, his grandparents and parents and parents being grape growers.
He knows his Skilly Valley part of the Clare region well, grew up there, played along the creeks, loved the wildlife. And he still lives there. It’s his history. Where his heart is.
“It’s a unique section of Clare,” he says. “I’m still drawn to it.”
And when it comes to new tricks time, he’s launching a juveniles style grenache at the Festival. He’s hardly a fashion seeker, and rather lets the wines do the talking, but clearly Woodvale is more than just emerging.
It’s already found it’s voice.