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Alan Brady: How This Winemaker Pioneered Pinot Noir in the Gibbston Valley

We take immense pride in having Alan Brady, the founder of Gibbston Valley Wines, overseeing the creation of our wine. We work with our winemaker Brian Shaw and Alan Brady on La Bella Rosa which is meticulously produced on a small scale, yielding just 4-5 barrels annually.

Alan Brady at Mt Rosa Lodge

When Alan Brady started planting vines in Gibbston Valley at the start of the 1980s, not only was Alan Brady establishing the first vineyards in the subzone, he was one of the first outsiders to move into the area in generations. Gibbston Valley had been populated by sheep farmers who farmed their flocks on expanses of land passed on to the next generation and then the next. Local crops were just that, local, generally used simply to feed the families that also farmed them. Alan's goal, on the other hand, was to grow grape vines that could become a commercial venture, wine that could be enjoyed not only by he and his family but perhaps even abroad.

Alan Brady: The Early Pioneer

The story of Pinot Noir in Gibbston Valley begins with a pioneer like no other – Alan Brady. In the early 1980s, when he planted the first vines in the region, he not only kick-started the wine industry in the area but also brought a new perspective to this generations-old sheep farming community. Alan's vision was clear: he aimed to cultivate grapevines that could not only thrive in this challenging environment but also produce wines that could compete on the global stage.

Challenges and Innovation

As a visionary winemaker and viticulturist, Alan Brady faced numerous challenges. The rugged landscape, rocky soils, and steep slopes of Gibbston Valley demanded immense dedication and innovation. However, his unwavering commitment paid off, as he set the foundation for the modern Pinot Noir story in this region.

Climate and Patience

As Alan worked in Gibbston Valley, he noticed something unique about the region's climate. Crops in the valley ripened earlier than those in Queenstown, which was colder, and later than Bannockburn, a warmer area. He believed that the region could ripen fruit in all but the coldest years. This perspective differed from some subsequent generations of winemakers who believed that fruit in Gibbston Valley only ripened one out of every three vintages. Alan's patience and experience led him to a different conclusion.

A Lifelong Journey in Wine

Today, Alan Brady remains a respected figure in the world of winemaking, with over four decades of experience. He has seen the industry evolve, from its early days when balance with bigger size was achieved through blending fruit from multiple sites to the more recent focus on site transparency and freshness.

Alan Brady's journey through the world of wine in Gibbston Valley is a story of passion, innovation, and evolution. His pioneering spirit, commitment to the land, and adaptability have played a crucial role in shaping the region's wine industry. His legacy lives on in the exceptional wines he produces, showcasing the unique qualities of Gibbston Valley. Alan's journey is a testament to the fact that, in the world of winemaking, sometimes it takes an outsider to uncover the true potential of a region.


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