Nick Farr launched his Farr Rising label just after the turn of the millennium, stamping the already famous family name with an ambitious tag. In hindsight, that ascent now seems less presumptive and more a forgone conclusion with Nick now steering the winemaking for his label alongside the By Farr and Irrewarra labels (an Otway offshoot). Across the labels, chardonnay and pinot noir are the lifeblood, in refined, classic moulds, with one of this country’s finest expressions of gamay also under the Farr Rising imprint. Nick Farr was a Young Gun finalist in 2007.
It’s fair to say that Nick Farr is descended from wine royalty. Not from the multi-generational vinous lineage you may get in the Barossa, for example, but royalty nonetheless. Gary Farr, his father, was the iconoclastic steward of Bannockburn Vineyards in Geelong, forwarding the quality push for chardonnay and pinot noir like few others. After a good couple of decades at Bannockburn, Gary jumped the fence, somewhat literally, to steer his By Farr label on the adjoining property, which he had first planted to vines in 1994
Gary casts a long shadow, but Nick’s presence has been undimmed by it. Growing up on a vineyard, Nick has worked a lifetime’s worth of vintages, spent both at the home site in the Moorabool Valley, as well as at Rosemount Estate in the Hunter Valley, and fresh from university at Innisfail Vineyard near to the By Farr base. It was at Innisfail, a year after graduating, that Nick launched his Farr Rising label, in 2001, the name a tantalising statement of intent.
Nick’s vintage experience has also stretched to working at legendary new world chardonnay and pinot exponents, including Oregon’s Cristom Vineyards and Jim Clendenen’s Au Bon Climat, in California. He has also worked many seasons at Domaine Dujac, where Gary forged much of his Burgundian thinking and has also worked vintage there for over two decades.
There’s a strong overlay of Nick’s experience with Gary’s, and he credits his father with influencing much of his thinking, but it would be a mistake to think that Nick is walking in his father’s boot hollows, a few steps behind. Nick, again much like his father, is not one to be led. Not at all. And both hold their ground like few others, a level of determination that is critical to making the kind of singular no-compromise wines the Farrs do, especially in their harsh, windswept site.
The method in the vineyards is overwhelmingly organic, though not as yet certified, with chardonnay, viognier, pinot noir, gamay and shiraz in the ground. The sites vary between being closely planted and very closely planted, with the pinnacle wines coming from the latter, the Côte Vineyard. Winemaking is classic Burgundian, with no fear of whole bunches in the reds, but the inclusion is very much a seamless one, lifting the fragrance and complexing the structure. Nick’s Farr Rising label, once sourced more broadly, now all comes from the family vineyards with a focus on different soil structures, such as chardonnay off grey loam rather than the black soils of the By Farr wines.