From a long line of winemakers in Germany’s Mosel region, Barry Morey is a hands-on producer, a ‘do-er’ who lets his wine do the talking.
Barry Morey is a modest man, who sees himself as a vigneron rather than a winemaker. ‘Winegrower’ is perhaps the best name as for him, it’s all about growing the best grapes he can – the actual winemaking is just a natural evolution from the vineyard to the bottle. His Sorrenberg wines leap out of that bottle – brimful full of flavour, power, depth and personality.
Morey has championed gamay for 30 years and few would argue that the Sorrenberg is Australia’s supreme example of the variety. There’s been a recent pile-on for gamay but Morey was well ahead of the pack. Likewise, the fashion for slender ‘Chablis-like’ chardonnay holds no interest for Morey, his Sorrenberg chardonnay is deep, rich and complex. Call it old-school if you will, but it’s one of the most underrated chardonnays in the country.
Not that Morey seeks accolades and attention; he just makes wines that speak of his special patch of soil. His intense, savoury flavoured Sorrenberg sauvignon blanc semillon has the depth and complexity of a top-notch white Bordeaux. For Morey, it’s simply his expression of the two varieties from his special Beechworth site.
The Moreys have planted native trees on their farm, run a complex mulching program and even use a biofuel made from re-purposed fish-and-chip oil.
Morey is hands on, a ‘do-er’ not a talker. That said, he expresses himself and his philosophies eloquently and sincerely. No doubt he’s thinking as he’s pruning those thousands of (close-planted) vines. Morey comes from a long line of German winemakers in the Mosel region. His mother didn’t make wine but his maternal grandfather did, having emigrated to Australia to manage a vineyard near Dookie, Victoria.
Morey remembers those vines and wines, so it wasn’t a big step to move from his family orchards at Shepparton into the wine business. Brown Brothers provided his first opportunity – as they have done for many budding viticulturists and winemakers.
Rick Kinzbrunner and Mark Walpole are fellow alumni.
After three years at Brown Brothers, Morey and his wife, Jan took the plunge, planting their first vines at Beechworth in 1984 and producing their first wines five years later. The rest – as they say – has been a lot of thought, commitment and bloody hard work.
Always mindful of the environment, Morey moved to biodynamic farming in 2000 with Demeter certification in 2008. His commitment to the environment goes much further, with biodiversity a cornerstone of what he is trying to achieve. The Moreys have planted native trees on their farm, run a complex mulching program and even use a biofuel made from re-purposed fish-and-chip oil. They’re only too aware of climate change, with drought, bushfires and smoke taint affecting vintages all too often.
With an eye to the future, Morey planted the Rhino block in 2005 with more of his existing varieties, plus sauvignon gris, malbec, petit verdot and carménère. The more recent Bindarra block (planted in 2019) includes the warm-blooded grenache, mourvèdre, shiraz, carignan and cinsault. Both of the newer blocks include more gamay in an attempt to keep up with the demand for the cult variety.
Morey wouldn’t use the term ‘cult’, he just grows vines and makes wines that reflect his special Beechworth site. “I am 64 years young,” says Morey, and while he and Jan are still enjoying the challenges and rewards of winemaking, he has an eye on the future. Succession planning is underway with no clear path set yet.
Demand outstrips the meagre supply of Sorrenberg wines with the smoke affected 2020 vintage adding to the scarcity. Sign up for the mail list, it’s the only way to ensure an allocation of the special wines.
FACTS AND FIGURES
REGION | Beechworth, Vic
YEARS IN INDUSTRY | 41
ANNUAL CRUSH | 30 tonnes
STAND-OUT WINES | Sorrenberg Gamay
Photography by Cameron Clarke.