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Clare Valley brothers Damon and Jonathan Koerner have been recognised with one of industry’s top awards, the Young Guns of Wine.
In 2014 the pair started their eponymous wine label, Koerner Wine, with older brother Damon as the head wine maker and Jonathan taking the lead on the marketing.
Their first wine to market was a Vermentino, Shiraz/Mourvedre blend, Cab Malbec, with fruit from the very same Watervale vineyard where they spent their youth.
In the years to follow the brothers took advantage of the Clare Valley’s limestone soils and unique climate conditions to produce their 2018 ‘Grace’ Riesling, a popular variety from the region, and experimented with emerging varietals such Sciacarello – a grape native to the French island of Corsica – that features in their 2018 ‘La Corse’ Red Wine.
It was with these two wines the brothers recently won the coveted Young Gun of Wine Award, recognising the most exciting, forward-thinking winemakers in Australia.
Humble in his response when asked about winning this award, Jonathan said they never expected to win, but the wines truly speak for themselves.
“In both of these wines we allow the fruit to do all the talking,” he said.
“Our winemaking philosophy is very simple and we tend to be pretty hands off when it comes to winemaking techniques.”
Raised amongst vineyards in the South Australia’s Clare Valley, brothers Damon and Jonathan Koerner’s entry into the wine business began in their early teens when they picked grapes for pocket money in their parent’s vineyard.
“Growing up working in a vineyard we knew the importance of understanding terroir, the individual varieties and knowing when to pick and how to treat the fruit with respect.”
“We believe great wine is made in the vineyard.”
This sentiment that good fruit makes great wine was certainly echoed by consumers – the Grace and the La Corse both sold out on the Koerner Wines website following the announcement of the win.
While welcoming the praise for their forward thinking approach to winemaking the brothers accept they are challenging the status quo for the region commonly known for Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
“We’ve made some pretty radical changes to the style of wine that’s commonly produced in the Clare Valley,” Jonathan acknowledged.
“But we’ve proven that we can do it and the old way of doing things is not the only way.”
“There is another way forward and we really want to see what else this amazing region has to offer.”
With their business roots firmly planted in the versatile Clare Valley – the brothers will continue on their mission to blend up unique and interesting wines.
“Winning this award proves to us that we are headed in the right direction with what we are doing,” Jonathan said.
“We look at this as the starting point from here on in and we just want to make the wines as best we can, we will never stop learning.
“The award event offers huge exposure, we are not interested in growing our business any bigger, we would like to sell more wine direct and eventually open a cellar door in the Clare Valley.”