Galafrey is a legendary name in Mount Barker, a groundbreaking winery that many thought would drift out of family hands after the untimely death of its founder, Ian Tyrer. But, at only 25, his daughter Kim took up the mantle and is now the CEO and winemaker, producing classic renditions of Mount Barker riesling, shiraz and cabernet, while also taking a particular interest in müller-thurgau and whole-bunch fermentation for shiraz and pinot noir.
“Chip and Charge is my motto,” says Kim Tyrer. “Every day I get up and tackle my list of jobs and slowly my goals are achieved. I do not have any formal training. My winemaking is intuitive. And every morning when I wake up and look out the window across the vineyard and the hills, I think to myself what a wonderful part of the world we live in.”
Tyrer was born a year after her family first planted vines on their Mount Barker property in 1977. She grew up on the vineyard as it and their Galafrey label grew alongside her, but she went on to study visual arts rather than winemaking and worked as a professional artist after graduating. Being the only child, Kim was asked by her father, Ian, if she wanted to take over the estate, or if he should be building it up for a sale before he retired. She took the former option, working three days a week to learn the ropes. Sadly, Ian passed away not long after, and Kim was thrust into the role of running the vineyard and winery in 2003.
“My dad started to show me how to run the labelling line and had hopes of showing and teaching me more about running Galafrey Wines,” said Tyrer. “Unfortunately, he passed away three months later. we survived that tragic time. I learnt a lot, ran the vineyard and winery and sold all that wine.”
Tyrer’s degree in visual arts is from the esteemed Western Australian School of Preforming Arts, and she has two paintings hanging in the Art Gallery of Western Australian. And while she had spent most of her life on a vineyard and in the winery, the lack of formal training meant it took until 2011 until she felt confident enough to take full control. Along the way, she has been helped by friends and family. “My mother and business partner Linda Tyrer and my hubby Nigel Rowe, who runs the vineyard, are great support,” she says. “We all work together, and I often bounce ideas of them, although the end decision is mine. I am a self-taught winemaker and am often self-conscious about this. It makes me work even harder, be more focused.”
Galafrey is planted to chardonnay, riesling, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, cabernet franc, pinot noir and merlot, with perhaps the most acclaim coming from the regional stars, shiraz and riesling. “The Great Southern is well known for riesling and I am extremely passionate about the variety,” says Tyrer. “I see us breaking out into doing some research and development with making riesling, looking at different ways to push it as a variety. I want to really branch out and become more of a leader in this field.”
With Galafrey Wines turning 45 in 2022, Tyrer says that she has been blessed with a great site, and one she is keen to express through he winemaking. “My father dug holes all over WA to find the best property to grow grapes, and here we are in Mt Barker. A great but isolated area. Gravel loam soils, 600 metres above sea level, with a climate like Bordeaux. The vineyard is dry grown and has a great sense of home. I like my wines to reflect that. When you drink my wines, you can tell someone has made it with passion from a sense of place.”