Third generation winemaker at Jim Barry Wines, Tom Barry, was named Young Winemaker of the Year at the prestigious Gourmet Traveller WINE awards in Sydney last night.
“To be honoured by your peers with an award such as this is a very humbling experience,” Tom admitted.
“With so many young Australian winemakers making their mark and producing some outstanding wines, this award is something I’m very proud of. This award is for the entire team at Jim Barry Wines who continue to encourage and challenge what I do.”
The modest 27 year old is a third generation winemaker at Jim Barry Wines – grandfather Jim was the first qualified winemaker to work in the Clare Valley, making wine for the Clare Co- Operative in 1946.
Jim and his wife Nancy started Jim Barry Wines in 1959. Tom’s father Peter, a qualified winemaker, has been the guiding hand of the modern Jim Barry operation. With a pedigree like this, it was inevitable Tom would follow in these footsteps.
“Grandpa would be very proud of me right now. He was always an inspiration, from a young age I used to follow him around the winery and watch what he was doing. From those moments, I pretty much knew what I wanted to be,” Tom said.
“My father Peter, who has worked hard to build the global structure of our business, has been incredibly generous with his knowledge, encouragement and advice to give me the opportunity to chase my dream.
“Mum and Dad were very emotional when I told them about the award. I think they both had a teary moment. I’m very lucky to have such a loving and supporting family. Mum and Dad have always encouraged me to ‘have a go’ and to get as much wine knowledge as possible.”
While studying winemaking at university Tom worked the 2005 vintage at Yalumba and the 2009 vintage at Shaw & Smith. After graduation, helped by his father’s long time friendship with Ernie Loosen, Tom went to the Mosel Valley in Germany for the 2010 vintage. In 2011, Tom’s Riesling odyssey continued with a vintage at Weingut Salomon in Austria.
“I used the time in Germany and Austria to learn as much about Riesling as I could,” said Tom.
“In my opinion, Riesling is still under recognised in this country. In Clare we have some of the world’s greatest Riesling vineyards and, in the future, I can see a huge world demand for these clean, pure bone-dry styles.
“I’m sorry my brother Sam and sister Olivia couldn’t be here tonight. Sam is doing a vintage in Burgundy and Olivia is living in London.”
2013 is a year Tom Barry won’t forget.
“Apart from the thrill of receiving this award, my golf handicap is the best it’s been, but, best of all, I’m marrying Olivia, my long-term girlfriend in November!
“I’m also looking forward to getting home and sharing a glass of Riesling with Grandma Nancy, she’ll be over moon.
“And I think it might be a good time to ask Dad for another three months off, for my next overseas vintage.”