Australia | Barossa Valley
Welland is an enduring ‘survivor’ vineyard in a truly unique location that is enjoying a new lease on life. In the township of Nuriootpa, Barossa Valley, is where you’ll find the Welland vineyard. Planted in 1923 by one of the Barossa’s founding families, Welland is the last remaining section of much larger plantings of vines and fruit orchards that once occupied the northern end of the township.
Over the years much of the original vineyard and orchard had been cleared, subdivided and built upon. But when the last remaining hectares of this historic old Nuriootpa vineyard were listed for sale as a development site, a group of friends banded together to purchase it and breathe life back into this important part of Barossa history.
Read on as we take a trip down memory lane…
The Story of Welland
Welland is the story of a group of friends, an old Barossa Valley Shiraz vineyard and its resurrection. Their story began with the arrival of the Krieg family, from Germany in 1847. The Kriegs became one of the Barossa’s founding families. Hardworking and successful business people, the family owned the local brickworks, a tannery and also a significant amount of orchard and vineyard at the northern end of the Nuriootpa township.
The Welland vineyard was subsequently planted in 1923 by the Krieg family. Situated on red clay soils, this vineyard for many years supplied premium fruit to well-known Barossa wineries such as Penfolds and Peter Lehmann. The Barossa has more than 550 grape growers. Many of these growers are generational and while the Krieg family never owned or operated a winery themselves, their vineyard became known amongst local winemakers as growing some of the region’s finest Shiraz.
In 2017, the last few hectares of this old vineyard were listed for sale as a development site. The vines were within a whisker of meeting the bulldozers when a group of friends led by Ben and Madeleine Chapman purchased the block. Together they are now in the process of resurrecting this historic old vineyard.
The fact that it was planted by one of the early settlers of the Barossa makes this old vineyard well worth the time, money and effort needed to restore it, explains Ben Chapman. “Similar to restoring old cars or houses, it is easier and more economical to start again by buying a new car or house — but they will never have the character or storied past of a restoration! With a vineyard, this isn’t just about appearance, it’s about the quality and character of the fruit it produces which ultimately comes through in the wine.’
The Welland vines have been trained on new trellising. Irrigation installed in 2019 now allows these old vines a precious drink in extended periods of heat or low rainfall. In 2020, some of the dead vines are replaced with young vines taken from cuttings off the Welland vineyard — the same genetic material only much younger.
Grapes grown from the Welland vineyard have traditionally been sold to other Barossa wineries for use in making their iconic Shiraz wines. Today, this fruit is used in making the Welland range of wines, giving this old vineyard a new opportunity to shine.
Spending school holidays with grandparents in the Eden Valley gave Ben a love for the Barossa at an early age. Yabbie nets, a slingshot and listening to horseracing on the wireless with grandad are all fond memories. Little did he know then, that he would be living and working in the Barossa’s wine industry later in life.
Ben has worked in the Australian wine industry for over 20 years. During this time he has been fortunate enough to work with some of Australia’s leading wineries in various roles including sales, marketing and management.
“While I have been fortunate enough to work in wine for more than 20 years, work with great people and great wineries, I always had a desire to do something myself. When this old Shiraz vineyard came up for sale, and, knowing some of the outstanding Barossa wines the fruit had made over the years, it was the catalyst for Welland to be born.”
Madeleine first worked in the wine industry back in 2000 when living in the Barossa. A move interstate saw her working in finance and executive assistant roles on mining and engineering projects. After starting their family and returning to the Barossa Valley, she is happily immersed in wine again. While her strength is keeping the administration and books in balance for Welland, on a sunny day she much prefers the vineyard to the office!
With three young children currently enjoying the fun and freedom that comes with Barossa life, Ben and Madeleine are hopeful that they too may have an interest in pursuing a future in the world of wine.
Wines of Welland
The winemaking philosophy here is simple — make wines they like to drink, and work with varieties that are suited to the Barossa. Rich, Generous, Balanced and Longevity are words that characterise the Welland style — flavoursome wines that are enjoyable and approachable in their youth, retain balance, and will reward cellaring.
Valley & Valley
A style that typifies the Barossa, Valley & Valley wines are produced from vineyards in both the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley. The winemakers aim for a style that typifies that of the region — plush fruit, subtle use of oak, and soft round tannins.
The younger Welland vineyard ‘replants’ will be picked separately from the original 1923 plantings and provide a small component of the Shiraz blend. The Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced entirely from grower vineyards in the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley. Oak maturation is primarily in older barrels to ensure the Barossa fruit characters dominate.
The Old Hands range acknowledges that many of the Barossa’s finest vineyards are owned by long-term grape growers with years of experience, often with the benefit of advice from past generations.
Their aim is to transfer the love and care shown in their vineyards to the bottle. The original 1923 plantings from the Welland vineyard provide a small component of the Shiraz blend. Made in a generous and rich Barossa style, then aged in a combination of new and old ‘hogsheads’ (300-litre oak barrels), the Old Hands range celebrates the intensity of flavour and colour that Old Hand growers can achieve in their vineyards.
Check out their full range of wines below: