WBM Magazine‘s free Friday e-bulletin The Week That Was announced yesterday that Mike Press Wines in the Adelaide Hills has been sold to another family. Anthony Madigan reports.
I first read about Mike Press Wines in a humble newsletter that lobbed in my letterbox in Balhannah. Junk mail ruled back then. Among the wads of leaflets advertising vacuum cleaners, free real estate appraisals and lost goats, was a humble newsletter for Mike Press Wines from Kenton Valley. Never heard of them.
Ten bucks a bottle; must be shit. Wrong! Every time the newsletter arrived, I bit. Mike and Judy Press kept stuffing flyers in letterboxes and the accolades kept flowing.
Mike made the wine and delivered it himself to customers in the Hills and Adelaide, often with a bonus stash box of pumpkins, onions and watermelons. Tyson Stelzer pounced on the story early; then Halliday, who wrote, “I have decided to give this winery five stars because there is no other producer offering estate grown and made wines at prices to compete with them.”
How did they do it? Hard work, great fruit, small but workable margins and a market niche no one had thought about. It was a good story – a tiny operator competing successfully at the bloodbath commercial end dominated by corporates literally a hundred times its size.
Many other producers were off chasing premium prices where the margins were; that market got crowded. The inevitable happened – in 2011 Mike Press Shiraz 2010 ($10) was named Best Wine of Show at the Adelaide Hills Wine Show. It raised eyebrows in this proud region but the cult following wasn’t surprised.
Mike and Judy Press have sold the business to Bob and Yuko Harris. For a tidy sum. Mike and Judy are staying on. Mike’s son James Press and Judy’s daughter Sarah O’Halloran, together with Bob’s daughter Anna who lives in the Hills with partner Steve, will work together on the business.
Judy said: “This has been our baby for nigh on 20 years and when we met Bob and Yuko we knew we had met like minded people and the brand would be in good hands. We all want Mike Press Wines to stay a small family run company producing outstanding wines at a price everyone can afford.”
Bob is a South Australian returning home after 45 years. Yuko is a translator and publisher in Japan. They have founded a wine club in Burgundy. Mike Press Wines is off to Japan and beyond. Bob and Yuko think Mike’s wines are special. Clearly.
Bob said: “Mike has a lifetime of experience as a winemaker and won prestigious awards and consistent high-rating reviews. The vineyard is rated at the very top among the state’s vineyards. His pinot noir and chardonnay compare with the ones we know in Burgundy.
“And then there is the cabernet, shiraz, merlot and sauvignon blanc – all from a single vineyard! It is important for us that Mike Press Wines is a family business. We want to keep it that way.”
Mike and Judy are happy.
“We have seen this grow from a humble cleanskin operation to a well respected brand… we are really happy with the outcome but I’m glad there is this transition period because it would be hard just to say goodbye.” Mike will still be making the wine.
“And yes,” says Judy, “delivering it in Adelaide himself with our home-grown veggies when available.”
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