Sarah Feehan and Melissa Gray Parley Wines

Top Winemakers

Launched in 2021, the Parley Wines range – owned and made today by Sarah Feehan and Melissa Gray – offers around 10 wines that defy the traditional paradigms of the regions they’re sourced from. Their wines in glass are as playful and approachable as the abstract geometric art that adorns each bottle. Sourcing grapes from across the Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, and Coonawarra, they also breathe new life into a 1-hectare old vineyard in the Basket Range of Adelaide Hills. This carefully crafted collection from Parley Wine encapsulates the vibrancy of classic South Australian wine regions through a non-traditional lens, offering a fresh take on winemaking for wine enthusiasts and novices alike.

Sarah Feehan and Melissa Gray, the dynamic duo behind Parley Wine, have carved a distinctive path in the Adelaide Hills wine scene. Feehan’s entry into the wine industry was serendipitous, stemming from her hospitality background in the Adelaide Hills, where she first encountered the local wine community. Her initial vintage at Commune of Buttons in 2019 marked the beginning of an adventurous winemaking career, further enriched by experiences in Burgundy and Tuscany. Meanwhile, Melissa, driven by her love for wine, relocated from Melbourne to immerse herself in the Adelaide Hills’ winemaking scene, furthering her education with an Oenology degree.

Their brand, Parley, was conceived during the lockdown of 2020, symbolising a collaborative spirit and a commitment to their craft. Their inaugural 2021 vintage encapsulates their ethos of producing wines with elegance, nuance, and a commitment to expressing the natural character of their vineyards.

Woods and Feehan point out the role of fellow Parley founder, Jocelyn Mihalynuk, who conceived Parley alongside Woods and Feehan, with Mihalynuk’s last vintage being 2023. “Even though Joss is no longer involved in the business,” says Woods, “It doesn’t change the contributions she’s made thus far, and as we evolve and grow, it’s important to acknowledge where we started – with the coming together of three friends.”

“The style that seems to have evolved quite naturally is a lightness of touch. We avoid over-working the ferments and keep intervention to a minimum to accent varietal character.”

The Parley Wine portfolio encompasses a diverse array of around ten wines, crafted from vineyards scattered across the Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, and Coonawarra. Their engagement with the vineyards extends beyond merely sourcing fruit; they are deeply involved in the viticultural process. Feehan sheds light on their hands-on approach to viticulture, especially with a special block that holds significant value to them. She explains, “We work with a small block of 1H, the first planted in Basket Range. It was planted in 1980 by Phil Broderick and has passed through the hands of some well-known producers throughout the years. Unfortunately, it is slowly declining due to Eutypa and other introduced diseases. We have been removing the dying vines and retraining watershoots where we can, with a nursery planned to replace vines in the coming years. Fruit quality is typically good with low yields producing concentrated berries with a natural freshness from the site. What we are really looking for here is to protect the site so it can continue to produce fruit in decades to come.” This statement underscores their commitment to sustainable viticulture and their efforts to rejuvenate and preserve the integrity of their cherished vineyard for future generations.

Parley Wine stands as a testament to their dedication to fostering a community-oriented, supportive environment, particularly for women in the industry. Their vision extends beyond crafting exquisite wines to creating a nurturing space for emerging producers.

Their minimal intervention approach, focusing on the inherent qualities of their vineyards, is evident in their wines. They emphasize natural expression, subtlety, and a light touch in the winemaking process, aiming to highlight the varietal characteristics without excessive intervention.

Gray articulates the duo’s approach to crafting wine, “We are still very much in an exploration stage. I hope we stay that way. In saying that we are definitely creating wines with elegance and nuance in mind. We try to construct each wine with subtlety. Working with acid, flavour, and texture to highlight the natural expression of the vineyards.”

Echoing this sentiment, Feehan elaborates on the intrinsic style that has emerged from their winemaking process, “The style that seems to have evolved quite naturally is a lightness of touch. We avoid over-working the ferments and keep intervention to a minimum to accent varietal character.”

Their connection to the Adelaide Hills community is a cornerstone of their philosophy, benefiting from collaborative relationships and shared resources. “Our community is central to our entire existence,” states Feehan. “A friend from Burgundy recently commented on how collaboratively we work here in the Adelaide Hills. We share gear and help each other out throughout the harvest especially, but it carries into the rest of the year.” This community-centric approach has been instrumental in their growth and evolution as winemakers.

Parley’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship is reflected in their vineyard practices, particularly their efforts to rejuvenate a historical block in Basket Range. Their proactive measures aim to ensure the longevity and health of the vineyard, underscoring their respect for the land and its history.

The label’s inception during the uncertain times of 2020 serves as a testament to their resilience and entrepreneurial spirit. Their journey from working for others to establishing their own brand encapsulates a shared vision of independence and creative freedom in winemaking.

Their drive to establish Parley Wine goes beyond personal ambition. It embodies a broader mission to create a supportive and inclusive space within the industry, especially for women. Their success is not just measured by the quality of their wines but also by their impact on the community and their contribution to a more diverse and equitable industry.

“We wanted to create a platform for ourselves to work within our passion and grow that into a business that supports us and, down the line, supports and employs women. Our dream is to someday have a creative hub where small producers can kick start their own brands.”

Bookmark this job

Please sign in or create account as candidate to bookmark this job

Save this search

Please sign in or create account to save this search

create resume

Create Resume

Please sign in or create account as candidate to create a resume