Feature image by Sam Kroepsch
Andy Kalleske knows a lot about vineyards.
The grape-grower come winemaker heralds from family winery, Atze’s Corner. Right near Penfolds and Elderton, the vineyard, and now cellar door, sits proud, the location of some of the oldest vineyards in the Barossa Valley.
According to Kalleske, the first vineyard on the property was planted in 1912 by his early ancestors.
“My Dad, John, left his original homestead in the 70s, and with my Mum, Barb, came to where we are now [Atze’s Corner],” he says. “We’ve always been a farming and grape-growing family.”
Kalleske followed suit, diving into the family business after finishing high school. Ten years later, he says he became frustrated with the grape-growing, as a result of the inherent oversupply of fruit to winemakers.
“I started making wine as a hobby,” he muses. “Sure, I had a bit of a vision that it could be something more.”
Atze’s Corner supplied grapes to some of the largest South Australian producers, as well as smaller winemaking businesses.
“There was one pivotal moment,” says Kalleske, that made him think more seriously about winemaking.
“The grapes were booked to go to a winery the next day,” he says. “It was a big vintage, and then last minute, the winery cancelled. We had to go out and harvest onto the ground and that’s when I realised something had to change.”
According to Kalleske, it was this moment that drove him to create a brand for his wine.
“We started making Shiraz, and then began to play with alternate varieties.”
Kalleske speaks candidly and passionately about keeping the vines in balance, making them work hard but not too hard.
“After all,” he says. “Wine is made in the vineyard.”
With such a long history as a grape-grower, Kalleske is particular about sourcing fruit, and knowing the vineyards well.
“We have a lot of pride in our vineyards,” he says. “We like to get to know the block, and to show it off by itself when we can.”
When Kalleske first started making wine, it was on the back of a truck with borrowed equipment. He would then driving the wine to friends’ houses, and his sisters’ wineries (Epsilon and West Lake Vineyards). Kalleske now employs full-time winemaker and good friend, Ryan Johns, to assist in handcrafting the wines.
The Atze’s Corner cellar door has now been open for almost a year, with the wines sold, multi-award winning.
“It’s made our brand and winery feel more real,” says Kalleske of the opening.
The cellar door is built into the winery, the building positioned to catch the sunset.
“I want it to be a positive, relaxed experience for people,” says Kalleske.
In terms of what’s to come, Atze’s Corner will play host to a variety of upcoming live music events, the first, an intimate evening of live acoustic music by Aussie rock legend Steve Kilbey, set to take place Friday, November 1.
“We like the simplicity of life,” says Kalleske.
You can find Atze’s Corner at 451 Research Rd, Nuriootpa.
For more info on the winery and cellar door, see here.