From the ground up
From ’80s hobby farm to 2023 Halliday Wine Companion Winery of the Year, Pooley Wines has risen to remarkable heights.
Winemaker Anna Pooley was eight years old when she worked her first vintage. It was the late 1980s, and her grandparents had moved from Hobart to Campania, over the road from her childhood home.
Anna’s dad John planted seven rows of pinot noir and 10 rows of riesling at her grandparents’ Coal River Valley property. It was the second vineyard in the area following Domaine A, which set up shop in the ‘70s. “It was a handful of vines to keep [my grandparents] busy and healthy,” Anna says. It worked, too. Her late grandmother, Margaret, stayed on the property until she was 94.
As the family business grew, Anna moved to Adelaide to study agricultural science at Roseworthy, before stints at Wolf Blass and Penfolds.
By the time she returned in 2013 with winemaker husband Justin Bubb, Pooley Wines had a second Coal River Valley vineyard and was thinking about in-house production. “We bought a big shed in Cambridge that we retrofitted into a winery; 2013 was our first harvest from grape to bottle,” Anna says.
That second vineyard, in Richmond, is a little bit warmer than the original site. Pinot noir, shiraz, chardonnay and riesling are grown across both, but they create different single-vineyard wines. Taking on both sites, the pair set out to double output and embrace organic production. “It’s a commitment to looking after what we have,” Anna says.
The past year has seen momentous change. The winery took out one of the biggest gongs in the business as Halliday Wine Companion’s 2023 Winery of the Year, stepping up from Riesling of the Year in 2022.
It also saw the inaugural release of Bubb + Pooley, Anna and Justin’s second label. “We make wine for Pooley, and a number of other vineyards around the state. We thought, why not buy some of that fruit and make some wines just for us?” she says.
Using traditional concrete wine fermentation tanks, they made a limited release of riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir. “Concrete is used a lot in Italy, and we really loved the textural influence, without that extra flavour you’d get from oak,” Anna says.
The first release turned out so well, they’ve bought a third Coal River Valley site that’ll be run with the same ‘hands-off’ winemaking approach that’s brought so much success in just 10 short years. “There are so many microclimates within the valley, and it works for the varieties we’re really interested in,” Anna says.
Keep an eye out for the first cabernet release from Bubb + Pooley in 2023.