Edenflo is the culmination of Andrew Wardlaw’s extensive experience here and overseas, a label centered around celebrating the Eden Valley with wines that continue his fascination with native yeasts and minimal intervention that he’s been championing for two decades. His process has always been lo-fi, with basket pressing, no chilling or fining, and gravity employed over pumps, and he never does numbers in the lab. He was a pioneer, if you will, and his wines are very much still at the cutting edge, with unlikely assemblies of grapes, some skinsy, some not, as well as elegantly pitched takes on Eden Valley reds.
Wardlaw makes a range of eccentric blends for Edenflo, one with the Madeira clone of semillon from 80-year-old vines with some chardonnay and viognier and given the full-skin treatment, called ‘Lemon Krush’; a skinsy gewürztraminer, riesling and viognier, called ‘Quincy J’; a blend of skinsy gewürztraminer, non-skinsy riesling and equally non-skinsy pinot noir, pressed off as white wine; and a blend of grenache, pinot noir, gewürztraminer and viognier, called ‘Candy Lane’. Add to that a straight syrah, a syrah cabernet, a grenache pinot noir, and then a blend of all four red varieties in a non-vintage wine, called ‘Fresh Prince’.
“As an environmentalist, I want to teach and assist people to understand the cause and effect of one’s impact on the environment. Each year, I convert more growers to organic, and I want to be 100 per cent in five years. I work with local family businesses and growers and pay them on time every time. I use local bottles, don't use chilling or any fuel that I can avoid. I don't want to export at this stage, as its one more carbon load. I am soon to support an environmental cause, likely regeneration. My vision is to educate and assist wherever and however I can to make this a better planet to live on.”
Making his first wine at the age of 15, Wardlaw had the head start of growing up around vineyards and cellars, his father being a prominent Barossa winemaker. Fresh from school, he started working in restaurants, where an appreciation for wine, food and culture was fostered. While studying viticulture, Wardlaw made his first wine solo in 1996, with a barrel of shiraz, which he continued to make each year while he worked for Peter Lehmann, and Prue and Stephen Henschke, who he counts as mentors.
In 1998, Wardlaw co-founded his own winery, called Tin Shed, quietly making minimal-intervention wines from 2000 that only employed ambient yeasts. He also won the Best White of Show at the Barossa Wine Show with his 2002 Eden Valley Riesling, which was the first wild-fermented wine ever to do so. He was well ahead of his time, in other words.
While making his own wines, Wardlaw did a stint on the side with Dave Powell at Torbreck – another mentor – and had a trip to Beaujolais for a vintage, which first encouraged his headlong dive into wild yeast. A few more European vintages and a few more at home saw him call time on his own label in 2006, afterwards working in various roles all around Australia for a decade, including in Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria, before setting up Edenflo in 2016, with the first wine coming in ’17.
The name Edenflo is part tribute to the territory he primarily works from – with some fruit coming from the Adelaide Hills – and part tribute to the concept of ebb and flow, to a link with nature, to the pattern of the tides and the phases of the moon. This connection to nature is an important one for Wardlaw, and one that is central to his approach with his label.
“As an environmentalist, I want to teach and assist people to understand the cause and effect of one’s impact on the environment. Each year, I convert more growers to organic, and I want to be 100 per cent in five years. I work with local family businesses and growers and pay them on time every time. I use local bottles, don’t use chilling or any fuel that I can avoid. I don’t want to export at this stage, as its one more carbon load. I am soon to support an environmental cause, likely regeneration. My vision is to educate and assist wherever and however I can to make this a better planet to live on.”
“I make wine because I love the process, the end result and every, well most, aspect in between. I do it by feel, using few instruments, no chilling or lab tests. I guide myself by the climate, seasons, weather, soil and the history of winemaking.”
The focus on organics is such a critical element for Wardlaw. Beyond his deeply held environmental motivations, he ranks it as the biggest driver of fruit and wine quality. “I prune and graft a few blocks that I source from, and in the grand scheme of things it only makes a very small difference. Converting to organic on the other hand is making a big difference for the environment and fruit quality.”
Wardlaw says that he finds winemaking comes naturally, and he works with the simplest of equipment. “I make wine because I love the process, the end result and every, well most, aspect in between. I do it by feel, using few instruments, no chilling or lab tests. I guide myself by the climate, seasons, weather, soil and the history of winemaking.”
This simplicity involves natural solutions that make better wine, he says: “Make do with what you have, as necessity is the mother of invention.” All fruit is picked in cool interludes or very early in the morning, meaning that it comes to the winery cold and in pristine condition, and he has been picking earlier in the season to make naturally fresh wines with bright fruit profiles. The fruit is then pressed straight to barrels for whites, unless undergoing skin contact, with red grapes crushed by foot, or destemmed. Wardlaw does this by hand over a screen, which gives him great control to destem completely or partially for a semi-carbonic ferment.
Already using low sulphur levels (30 ppm and less), and only at bottling, he is working towards not using any at all, which he says he is still working on with the whites, but stopped using it in the reds from the 2019 vintage. No wines are fined or filtered. Wardlaw’s approach is one refined over a long career, but he’s resolute that he is constantly learning, and that his wines will continue to evolve and grow.
“The Barossa is the most important premium region in the southern hemisphere,” he says. “We have access to most of the available varieties here and some extremely old vine stock over a maze of soil types, subregions and sites. Eden Valley is to me the pinnacle of the Barossa, where the most elegant syrah and riesling come from, and that will take my life to be able to start mastering.”
Will Gilbert is a sixth-generation winemaker, with his great-great-great-grandfather Joseph Gilbert responsible for planting some of the first vines in the Eden Valley in 1842. That legacy is honoured under the Gilbert label today, with a range of Eden Valley rieslings, but the core of the Gilbert operation is in Mudgee and the frosty climes of Orange, New South Wales, with a focus on riesling, pinot noir, chardonnay and shiraz with several bottlings of each, and made in a way that highlights purity and elegance.
Dhiaga is Justin Purser and Joyce Clery’s portal for expressing their love for Italian grapes, as expressed through Victorian vineyards and innovative winemaking techniques. The pair craft both recognisably classic expressions, as well as creative diversions, such as their dry, hop-infused Moscato that’s given gentle fizz through the pét-nat method. Justin Purser is perhaps best…