AN Adelaide landscaper facing a crossroads of life, and an English salesman tired of hammering the motorways of the UK, seem an unlikely duo to create a new wine label in South Australia’s Clare Valley.
And even more so when they don’t even own a winery. But between them and their wives, Ray Klavins and Stephen Stafford-Brookes have created Penna Lane Wines, a label that you’ll find is well worthwhile a bit of searching out.
Ray and Stephen didn’t know each other when they tossed in their jobs and entered Roseworthy College to study oenology and viticulture in 1991; they struck up a quick friendship, went their own ways in pursuit of work after graduating, and came together again in 1998 to launch Penna Lane.
With their College experience they chose to concentrate on grape growing, and to use Neil Paulett’s Clare Valley winery to make their wine. “We may not have our fingers on all the buttons all the time, but it allows us to direct our limited funds into grape growing, and to keep our fingers on the pulse. We still make all the crucial decisions about timing of harvest, choice of yeasts, fermentation techniques, oak maturation, blending and the like,” they say.
They’ve currently a 2007 Riesling ($20) and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon ($18,) and 2005 Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon (each $24;) our choice is the Shiraz with a good cheese platter – its rich black cherry, black olive and prune fruit flavours are well balanced with acidity, soft tannin and a hint of spicy oak.
(Phone (08) 8843 4364 or go to www.pennalanewines.com.au for stockists.)