Peta Baverstock’s is a sparkling wine specialist, with her Cuvée-Co Wines label an expression of classic styles, from traditional method vintage sparklings to col fondo prosecco and sparkling shiraz. Based on the Limestone Coast, she sources broadly from the zone, including Mount Gambier, Padthaway and Wrattonbully, working only with small parcels of fruit.
“Cuvée-Co Wines is a wine label focused on championing premium Australian sparkling wine,” says Baverstock. “Stepping out with bubbles made from fruit grown in the Limestone Coast has helped shine a light on this magnificent region for making fizz. The concept is to use classic varieties to make sparkling wine with the appropriate methods. Bottle fermentation for the extended yeast-aged styles that derive complexity and exquisiteness, and stainless steel for the fruitier grapes to capture their upfront freshness and to be accessible earlier.”
Graduating in oenology in 2000 from Adelaide University, Baverstock quickly began to focus on sparkling wine. After a vintage at Le Crema in the Sonoma Valley, California, she worked at the Yarra Valley’s Domaine Chandon for two years. From 2003–10, she was on the sparkling wine team at BRL Hardy (now Accolade Wines) under Ed Carr – Australia’s most revered master of the sparkling arts.
A scholarship to work with Bollinger was awarded in 2005 and led to Baverstock pursuing the Vin de Champagne Award, being the only South Australian finalist in the Professional section of the 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2016 Awards. It was a year before that last finalist finish that she had begun to mull over launching her own brand, which she finally launched in 2018 with the 2015 ‘The Kenneth’ Vintage Brut.
Baverstock likens launching her wine brand as like jumping off a cliff. “Extremely exhilarating and frightening all at the same time,” she says. “Two things really pushed me to take the leap. Firstly, I saw a parcel of fruit in Mount Gambier in 2015 from flinty volcanic soils. I just had to pick a couple of tonnes and see what I could do with it. And secondly, winning the first ever Best Sparkling Trophy at the Limestone Coast Wine Show in 2017, for a client’s wine I had made for them from that incredible 2015 harvest. I was ready to back myself!”
Working solely with small parcels, Baverstock only buys fruit from “engaged” growers. “Grower relationships are at the forefront of my winemaking projects, and I often visit their vineyards in the lead up to harvest to establish together which blocks or even rows to pick based on flavour. It’s all about the flavour! The fruit I am after comes from balanced canopy architecture with dappled sunlight on bunches to enhance that flavour development.”
Baverstock says that the Cuvée-Co Wines are classically made sparkling wines. “I love the attention to detail that sparkling winemaking commands, and in honouring the time for secondary fermentation to work its magic and make truly rewarding wines. I make wines in a classic way, looking to Old World techniques to hopefully make an authentic Australian version. I don’t mind trying new adaptions once I have a handle on a wine, mostly for personal exploration, and I don’t feel led by trends. I recently tried making a col fondo prosecco but clarified it – and I loved it!”
Moving to Robe in 2010 with her husband, Nick, who is a viticulturist, the region wasn’t necessarily high on Baverstock’s radar, but time on the Limestone Coast has changed that. “As the name suggests, limestone is all throughout the southeast and helps grow some striking fruit to work with,” she says. “The land is extremely diverse from volcanic soils to ancient and current coastlines, including the UNESCO World Heritage Naracoorte Caves. We are extremely blessed with our natural environment, and I think this shows in the gratitude of the wine community who tend the land. We know the vines’ unique terroir influences the wines, and we are fortunate to have seven defined GIs in the Limestone Coast, all offering something quite different.”
While Baverstock will continue to source small pristine parcels of fruit for her wines and make them in a shared winery space, the plan is for a permanent home in the not-too-distant future. “Most likely a cellar door that tethers my brand to a location, not just a category or style,” she says. “If I dared to dream, having my own vineyard (or winery) would be the ultimate quest. I love the peace of walking through vines, watching them grow and change throughout the seasons and finally making a beautiful product from the crop. I romanticise about it, but my husband knows the reality!”