Ulithorne Wines is owed by winemaker Rose Kentish and her artist husband Sam, indeed it was Sam’s father Frank Harrison who first planted Ulithorne in 1971. The vineyard is located in the heart of the McLaren vale, in the area of Seaview on the northern side of the Onkaparinga River National Park, a place of outstanding natural beauty which is bourne out in the wines produced.
Although under managed from 1979 until 1997 the vineyard still produced some of the best fruit in the region delivering grapes to wineries Wirra Wirra and Rosemount. When Sam and Rose took on the vineyard they improved the infrastructure and gave much love and care to the vineyard and this is clear in the quality of the wine produced.
Ulithorne was originally namesd after ‘Ullathorne’, the first Irish Catholic priest in Australia, however the incorrect spelling of the name has stayed, so synonymous is has become with McLaren Vale and exceptional quality grapes Frux Frugis is the latin for ‘fruit of the earth’, inspired by the fact many winemakers believe the smell of the earth comes through in the wine. Here the particular mix of rocky clay loam over the limestone and shale give a unique character to the wine of elegant, fruit-driven and complex concentrated flavours.
Rose has been described as an ‘accidental winemaker’, learning by making wine with Brian Light’s guidance. However there is nothing accidental about her wines and the accolade of Bushing Queen, the McLaren Vale Winemaker of the Year at the Bushing Festival in 2008 (only the second woman to win this title) is testament to this.
Rose who has been making Frux Frugis since 2001 “Frux Frugis means Fruit of the Earth in Latin. It defines my approach to winemaking – to reflect the grapes that grow in the soil and to try and capture the unique qualities that only that vineyard in that part of the earth can produce.”
To begin with Rose engaged a senior winemaker from McLaren Vale to help with the winemaking. Rose still works with this winemaker every vintage, but the balance of power / decision making has shifted. Now she calls him in at key times to have another palate that she trusts to trouble shoot or assist or confirm thoughts.
“I love winemaking with more than one palate. I think it can be very dangerous making wine with just one palate and I continue to use this same approach with the wines I now make in France under the Ulithorne label.” In 2008 Rose won the highly coveted ‘Bushing Queen 2008 – McLaren Vale Winemaker of the Year’.
South Australia/McLaren Vale