More than 40km south of Adelaide by the old road, McLaren Vale has attracted winemakers, vignerons and visionaries for more than 180 years. Already a major wine region in the 1880s it was a century later that Paul and Jill Buttery purchased a plot of land named Gemtree off the narrow gum-lined track that is Elliot Road.
Some 14 years after establishing the vineyards, Paul and Jill were issued a somewhat surprising request by their daughter Melissa, who had returned to South Australia after finishing a business diploma and exploring the world.
Melissa: “I want to work in the vineyards.”
Paul: “I’ll give you three weeks.”
That was 1994, and in the ensuing decades, Melissa not only worked the vineyards but became a qualified viticulturalist, a well-regarded expert in biodynamic and organic farming and married a boy called Mike Brown, who is now Gemtree’s chief winemaker and managing director.
Living in one of Australia’s most celebrated natural regions has given Melissa and Mike a mindfulness about the environment and the earth. They were growing organic fruit and vegetables in their backyard and, knowing there had to be a way to sustainably grow and farm grapes, they decided to take that philosophy into the vineyard.
Experimentation with a few select blocks of Tempranillo ensued. After much trial, error, grit, determination and some choice swear words, Melissa started to see more life in the vineyards and a better quality of fruit flavour. From this point Melissa was determined to farm all of Gemtree’s blocks organically. Gemtree earned full organic certification in 2011.
Never shying away from experimentation and the opportunity to improve Gemtree’s vineyards and wines, in 2007 Melissa delved into biodynamics, introducing techniques that interweave the health of the soil, vines and resident fauna and flora. Back at the winery, Mike was no stranger to innovation himself – testing out biodynamic winemaking practices that stand today.
Under the care of this indomitable team over more than 25 years, the Gemtree vineyards are flush with health, resulting in exceptional fruit quality and outstanding wines of elegance and purity.
Biodynamic wines grounded in earth.