Photo credit: Good Catholic Girl Wines
When in the holy town of Sevenhill, it would be a sin not to visit this boutique winery, Good Catholic Girl Wines. Nestled in the heart of the Clare Valley, the winery is a hidden gem and a must-visit for anyone looking for a unique cellar door experience.
The stone-walled cellar door, lovingly coined The Vestry, is tucked away on Horrocks Highway amongst gum trees and lush green lawns. Oozing with character, good humour, warm wood fires in the winter and sparkling chandeliers, the Vestry is one of the region’s best-kept secrets.
Echoing the rich Irish Catholic history it was inspired by, a smattering of holy paraphernalia crowds the walls. The saintly staff at the cellar door are welcoming and chatty, wittily referred to as the ‘altar girls’.
Established by Julie Ann Barry, the Limerick Vineyard was planted in the Armagh area of Clare Valley in 1997, with cuttings taken from her esteemed father, Jim Barry’s famous Armagh Shiraz vines.
“I love my wine business, I have total freedom to do and say exactly what I want, anything is possible – and all doubters were ex-communicated long ago,” says Julie.
“I meet the most amazing, interesting and funny people who embrace my philosophy and just enjoy a delicious wine and a good story, very Irish indeed.”
Julie goes on to explain the reason behind her disarming approach to wine tasting derives from the excitement of cracking a fresh bottle and enjoying a great tipple.
“The whole point of wine is to increase your daily enjoyment, it simply tastes great, encourages people to communicate, laugh and have fun”
“My motto is to drink what you like, be happy and try to remain standing.”
After establishing the winery in 2005, Julie says she continues to receive her divine inspiration from the Good Catholic Girls within her family. Launching her first Riesling in 2008, she coined the crisp drop after her mother Teresa, who Julie says consumed “extraordinary amounts” of it. Things have moved decisively since then, with an array of multi-vintage ‘prayerodynamic’ wines on offer at the cellar door, rich in history and meaning.
Exclusively growing red grapes, of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, Julie lovingly refers to her wines as her children.
“Rosario is named after Catholic Rosary Beads, keep the bad luck at bay,” she explains. “Hail Mary full of Grace Cabernet – saying this prayer will guarantee you a parking space.”
“Hell Bent shiraz, named after Joan D’Arc, who was hell bent and burnt at the stake for it”.
One of her most popular wines, the James Brazill Shiraz is named after Julie’s great uncle who was killed in France in WWI, and who her father James Brazill Barry was named after. Barry was a wine aficionado himself, and the first oenologist in the Clare region.
Good Catholic Girl Reds are single-vineyard wines, and as Julie puts it, “like a large catholic family, a new one pops out each year, different to the others. Always a great surprise…where is the joy in knowing the gender of your baby before it arrives?”
Good Catholic Girl grapes are picked at optimum ripeness with full flavour, resulting in all these reds being higher in alcohol than most, sitting at a staggering 17 per cent ABV.
“Catholics are committed to drinking wine,” quips Julie. “I make wine to be consumed for enjoyment, not to be analysed and scored”.
Good Catholic Girl Wines has intrigued and charmed passers-by with their quick wit and ‘sacred brew’, over the years garnering quite the passionate fan base.
Good Catholic Girl Wines is located at 9 Horrocks Hwy, Sevenhill SA
The Vestry is open on Saturday and Sundays at 11am until 4pm. Outside these hours, find Good Catholic Girl Wines at the Sevenhill Hotel.
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