Wine by Farr
Farr is a small estate in the Australian Moorabool Valley, on the west side of Geelong. The estate is run by Gary Farr, founder and father of Nick, who shares with him responsibilities and fame.
Despite working together, the beauty of this estate is the clear distinction in style between Gary and Nick, resulting in two production lines: by Farr and Farr Rising, both widely praised by wine critics worldwide.
The history of Wine by Farr is not only a family affair in the broadest sense, but also an exciting journey that reaches beyond Australian boarders.
Gary Farr is the founder of the estate, but prior to this he worked at the Bannockburn winery, near Geelong, in the Australian region of Victoria, at Cristom in Oregon, at Calera in California and, for about a decade, at the famous Domain Dujac in Burgundy. From these estates he nurtured his passion and expertise for Pinot Noir, with wine expert Len Evans, who described Gary as the “maker of Australia’s best pinot”.
Gary and his wife Robyn bought the property in 1994 and in 1998, they purchased another section to extend the estate. This piece of land had not been worked on for the 40 years prior to the acquisition. In 2011, while already in the family estate, Gary’s son Nick Farr purchased the land in between, completing the puzzle.
Nick grew up in the family estate, but, as his father valued the opportunity of learning outside, spent the late 1990s at Rosemount winery in Australian Hunter Valley, and produced some vintages alongside Gary at Innisfail Vineyards in Geelong. He also had stints at ABC in California and Domaine Dujac in Burgundy.
Today, Gary and Nick work together with the son recognising the influence his father had in his formation of his winemaking philosophy. However, they don’t make a mystery of having two very different styles and they encourage this diversity in promoting two different lines: Farr, produced by Gary, and Farr Rising, look after by Nick.
The general tendency of Gary and Nick as winemakers is to produce what they enjoy themselves, with all the differences that personal taste might highlight. Equally though, personal taste translates into passion, which is clearly evident in each release of this estate, all of them eagerly anticipated.
It’s not hard to see why the small quantities of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Farr Wines always sell quickly.
The Farr estate develops along a 52 hectares farm, but only 15 of them are planted as vineyards. The extension of the estate as we know it today is the result of three different land acquisitions, in 1994, when the estate opened, and in 1998 and 2011.
The four grapes planted at Farr are: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay and Shiraz. In particular, their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines are thought to be of the highest quality, leading to their global reputation.
Farr wineries can rely on both an ideal continental climate and six different types of soil in the estate. It’s believed these slightly cooler conditions are ideal for viticulture, of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in particular.
The micro-climate of the Moorabool Valley is influenced by sea breezes and winds from the western plains, alleviating temperature on long sunny days and cooling down the air at night. The difference of temperatures between day and night is also believed to help wines develop their complexity.
The soil across the Farr property can vary considerably. The two main types limestone and a rich, black and red volcanic loam. The are also quartz gravel and a red tinted volcanic soil, buckshot, also referred to as ironstone, in a grey sandy loam that is characterised by a dense clay base, sandstone base and volcanic rocks. All these soils have good drainage potential, low fertility and complexity. They are also rich in minerals, which associated with the scarce rainfall of the region, ensuring the intense flavour displayed by the fruits.
The position of vines at Farr is specifically from east to west, in order to shade the grapes from overexposure to sun. The vines are densely planted, at about 7,500 stocks per hectare, but yields are generally low, with a focus on quality.
At harvest, grapes are handpicked and sorted already in the vineyard. At the end of the winemakingprocess, all the wines are racked, fined and lightly filtered right before bottling. However, it is probably in de-stemming and fermentation that the differences between the wines managed by Gary and Nick can be seen.
In general terms, de-stemming applies occurs in 70% to 90% of the grapes. However, the glorious Pinot Noir developed by Farr keeps the stems on up to 60% of the fruit. All the barrels are made from French oak, specifically from the Allier and Vogue forests, but whereas the percentage of new oak used by Farr is typically between 10% and 30%, their Pinot Noir utilises up to 60%. This is likely due to the influence that Domaine Dujac had on Gary during his time there.