Jack and Tash Weedon’s Rollick label is built around the bright, drink-now styles of wine they love to drink themselves. Working with grenache, shiraz and viognier from the Barossa, riesling from the Eden Valley and fiano from the Riverland, the fruit is picked earlier to retain freshness, while less time in oak or tank has much the same impact. The Rollick wines are instantly recognisable wines of variety and place, but with the vibrancy and freshness dials wound to maximum.
Husband and wife duo Jack and Tash Weedon were both born in the Barossa. In fact, they were born two weeks apart, and with the same doctor delivering both of them. Jack’s family stayed on, while Tash’s moved away, but a chance meeting 25 years later at a mutual friend’s party brought the pair together, and the rest, as they say…
“Tash and I first made a fiano together back in 2015 to raise funds for a charity,” says Jack Weedon. “We had talked about starting our own wine label, and the feedback we received from everyone motivated us to kick start plans for what is now known as Rollick. We took a bit of time to officially launch the brand, because we decided to pack up and travel overseas, completing vintages as we went.”
Weedon started in the wine business in the 2006–07 vintage, working at Yalumba, before embarking on his winemaking degree at Charles Sturt University. During his studies, he took a role on the winemaking team at Henschke, under Stephen Henschke and Paul Hampton. He stayed there for eight years, while also squeezing in a vintage with Barolo legend Vietti.
That trip took the pair overseas for 18 months, working vintages in New Zealand at Villa Maria and for Rhône icon Domaine Paul Jaboulet. On their return, Weedon took up the winemaking role at Murray Street Vineyards, while the pair set about building their own label, with Rollick launched in 2019. Weedon now splits his time between two consultancy roles, making their own wine at the wineries he works with.
“I have grown up and worked for majority of my career in the Barossa. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to work with and form relationships with many grape-growers, which has allowed us to work with high-quality sites and growers with Rollick, making single site wines that really showcase the fruit.”
For Rollick, the pair split the duties, says Weedon. “Tash has cut her teeth on the winemaking side, and she takes care of much of the other parts of Rollick, which is why she’s dubbed the ‘magicmaker’,” while his focus is on sourcing sites and fruit, and making the wines. “Our first release of wines was in September 2019 with our Eden Valley Shiraz, Eden Valley Riesling, Barossa Valley Viognier and our ‘First Step’ Fiano from the Riverland, and we added our ‘Boot Full’ Barossa valley grenache in the 2020 vintage.”
While the pair have a deep respect for the Barossa, its traditions and history, their style is very much pitched to more modern sensibilities. “We want to show some of the youthful, drink-now styles of wine that we like,” says Weedon, “and also play around with some varieties outside of the region. We don’t want to be confined by a traditional way of doing things. We firmly believe that wine is an artform in storytelling and each bottle of our wine tells a story.”
Weedon credits much of his experience of making and drinking with forming the wines he makes, picking up an eclectic range of practices over his career. “It sort of forms a bit memory bank of different ideas that we incorporate into our own style – so long as the end product is delicious! Rollick means to move or behave in a carefree joyous manner, and that’s the experience we want to create when people drink our wine.”
Freshness and vibrancy are Weedon’s keywords when describing his wines. “This generally comes from a combination of things,” he says. “This includes picking early to retain acidity and fresher flavours, use of mature oak and less time in oak or stainless steel, and using traditional and modern winemaking techniques. We’ve been picking earlier and earlier for our whites and getting them into bottle fairly quickly. I think this has certainly led to brighter aromatics and fresher flavours that tend to age well over the short to medium term.”
While he notes that working with fruit from the Barossa Valley floor has presented challenges for their style, Weedon says they wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else. “The Barossa is home to many of Australia’s most renowned brands, and I’ve been fortunate to have built my career through working with them. The community is welcoming, down to earth, hard-working and with a larrikin spirit. It’s where we want to raise our family – we just had our daughter this year. Also, with the reliably warm weather, you can make a myriad of different wine styles.”
The durability of grenache allows them to pick early even in the warmer years and make aromatic and delicate wines with enough flavour and tannin ripeness, while the pair prefer to source their shiraz from the Eden Valley. “It’s higher in altitude, cooler and later ripening,” says Weedon, “so it’s picked out of the heat of summer and has more delicate and perfumed shiraz flavours. We also experiment with wines outside the region.”
This includes sourcing their fiano fruit from Ashley Ratcliff’s Ricca Terra Farms in the Riverland, where they are able to obtain grapes grown in a sympathetic environment, and – unusually for the Riverland – grown with quality prioritised over quantity. They’re even able to have it hand-picked. “We are selective with who we work with – those focused on quality and transparency,” says Weedon.
“Being a small boutique producer, we are very hands on and that has meant some real sacrifices for us in terms of our personal time. We’ve learned to let our hair down and have some fun as we go – otherwise why do it? – and include our customers in this. This is why our personal stories are printed on our wine labels, and why you’ll often get Tash or me delivering wine whenever we can – we want to give that personal touch and share our passion for what we do. It won’t always be possible, but we try!”