The story behind clos Clare is fast becoming a legendary tale and has earned a place in the Clare Valley’s winemaking history. This tiny, 5 acre vineyard was originally part of the celebrated Florita vineyard in the Clare Valley sub-region of Watervale, famed for producing outstanding dry Riesling.
In 1986 Mark, Peter and John Barry (sons of the revered winemaker Jim Barry) purchased the whole Florita vineyard from Leo Buring and sold off the small corner of the vineyard including its European style homestead, Warilto (the cellar door today) to a local artist, Ian Sanders, to help fund the purchase of the Florita vineyard and clos Clare was born.
Today’s label is an original design by Ian Sanders. Ian Sanders turned to Jeff Grosset and Tim Knappstein to look after the winemaking until he sold the property to Noel Kelly in 1996. Kelly continued working with Grosset and subsequently O’Leary Walker. By this stage, the vineyard had forged a reputation for producing one of Australia’s finest Riesling.
In 2007, Peter and Sue Barry purchased clos Clare, and it is run by their sons Tom and Sam Barry. The Barry family have been in the Clare Valley for three generations, Tom and Sam are the grandsons of Jim Barry, a pioneer of Clare Valley winemaking and founder of Jim Barry Wines.
The site itself is 70 years old, though the Riesling vines were replanted 30 years ago and it is a mixture of limestone over deep, rich, red clay (terra rossa) with some slate deposits in the centre of the vineyard. After hand-picking the fruit is taken to John and Daniel Wilson’s Polish Hill River winery, The Wilson Vineyard. Clos Clare also produces small volumes of a Watervale Shiraz and a Grenache.
Sam Barry: Sam’s first vintage was in 2007 at Jim Barry Wines, and he has since completed three vintages at the Wilson Vineyard at Polish Hill River, where he and Tom have made the clos Clare Rieslings, under the guidance of winemaker Daniel Wilson.
In 2011, Sam worked vintages at Hoddles Creek Estate in the Yarra Valley and in Piemonte at Benevelli Piero in Monforte. Sam has also just completed his Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Adelaide. Tom Barry: Tom embarked on his first vintage at Yalumba in the Barossa Valley in 2005. The following year he started his Bachelor of Oenology. In his final year he undertook a 10 week placement vintage at Shaw and Smith in the Adelaide Hills.
He graduated from the University of Adelaide, Waite Campus (formally Roseworthy Agricultural College) with the same degree in Oenology that his father Peter completed in 1985 and grandfather Jim Barry received sixty three years earlier.
In January 2010, Tom started work as a junior winemaker at Jim Barry Wines and after completing vintage spent 3 months working in sales in America before heading to the Mosel Valley in Germany for a 2 months vintage at Dr. Loosen. Tom has recently returned from the Salomon Undhof winery in the Kremstal region of Austria with some fresh ideas and inspiration for the upcoming 2012 vintage. Tom is responsible for the clos Clare Shiraz and Grenache which are made using the micro winery at Jim Barry Wines.
South Australia / Clare Valley