We love sharing our wines and our favourite parts of our beautiful Kangaroo Island. Our blog shares our team's favourite ways to get the most from your visit when you're exploring Kangaroo Island. And of course we like to share the latest news and wine reviews with you too!
Jacques Lurton's relationship with James Halliday goes back to his first experiences in Australia as a young winemaker learning new world winemaking techniques in the freedom of the Aussie wine industry.
In this month's Wine Companion magazine, James reflects on the journey that led Jacques to select Kangaroo Island as the location for his only Australian wine business, with a vision to showcase the true potential that the region offers. And how our vision remains just as strong after the devastating fires of 2020.
Three of James Halliday's favourite Islander Estate Vineyards wines have received scores of 95 points in his Wine Companion magazine feature. All fantastic cool weather wines to feature in your wine cellar at this time of year.
2018 Wally White
Waves of flavour ride the mouth, concentrated, intense with abiding texture and acidity. As a 2yo it comes across as developed, but the acidity ensures a long life. Drink to 2027."
2019 Old Rowley
2019 The Sangiovese
Seasons rains have broken across the region bringing green pasture grasses back into the parched and burned fields. Areas of native bush devastated by the fires have spurred regeneration, bringing a ground level blanket of green amongst the burnt treetops.
While there are still years of recovery ahead, the Island is collectively taking a deep breath at these signs of recovery.
A video this week by our great mate Craig Wickham of Exceptional Kangaroo Island was filmed in the Parndana Conservation park who borders and blends into The Islander Estate Vineyard’s property. Craig is an expert and offers a great update on the regeneration in the park.
The rebuild of the Islander Estate property continues and Winter offers no reprieve. At this time, our Estate begins to come to life with winter rains. Our fields are beginning to fill with pasture and our neighbours, both also impacted by the fires, have ewes beginning to drop lambs. So, rebuilding our boundary fencing has become the critical priority with over 1,000 fence posts to be individually replaced and rewired.
Yale has a reputation for being able to turn his hand to anything and working harder than anyone we know. And he’s been proving this in spades, taking on the weeks (or months) long task of refencing one day at a time with our farmer neighbours Fox and Colin, regardless of the weather. Luckily, our brand-new fence post digger is making the task a little easier.
We are liaising with the Glossy Black Recovery Project to begin replanting essential habitat on our property for these endangered birds. Hopefully several thousand trees will be planted though winter.
While the remainder of our property springs to life in Winter, in the vineyard we prepare for winter dormancy.
With the help of amazing volunteers from many organisations, we have placed the vineyard in the best position possible to hand over to Mother Nature during winter. We have seen reshooting across areas of the vineyard and vines producing tertiary fruit, however we will need to await Spring to gain a real indication of the vineyard recovery. We wait and watch.
Our 2019 vintage wines are now all in bottle and ready for release over the coming months. In addition to new vintages of all our established wine we’re excited to be introducing two brand new white wines and two red wines to our every growing varietal range.
Our Discoverer’s Wine Club members have already had a pre-release sample of some of these wines and we’ll announce release dates via our social media channels.
So many wine lovers from all over the world come to spend their precious holiday time with us learning a little about why Kangaroo Island is the world's undiscovered wine treasure.
We miss that connection dearly & can't wait to crack open our best wines for tasting and throw open the door to our Tasting Room. Next time you visit, treat yourself to a Flagship wine tasting.
2. Simple pleasures with family and friends
Finishing a day on KI with fresh fish you've caught yourself is unbeatable. We love doing it with the people we love & a great glass of wine by our side (we recommend our Pinot Gris with local fish).
Our favourite spots for an evening fish? We'll it's hard to beat Snellings Beach on our stunning north coast, Brown Beach on the Dudley Peninsula (if you're lucky for a few flathead) or Emu Bay for a family favourite (park the car up on the beach, open the boot so you have somewhere to rest your wine & cheese platter).
With the cooler seasons coming on, we'll be packing up & heading out with friends with a bottle (or 10) of red and plenty of firewood to get us through the night - in our book the Majestic Plough Malbec is perfect for sharing with friends on cool nights.
Our top Kangaroo Island camping spots? Antechamber Bay campground where you can camp right next to the river & have a stunning beach just a few minutes away. Stokes Bay Campground with the fantastic Rockpool Cafe right next door & one of the best beaches on the Island. Vivonne Bay on the south coast to watch the surf roll in.
With a selection of Kangaroo Island restaurants each showcasing local cuisine in their own unique way & we can't wait to get out & enjoy it with friends again.
Whether its refined cuisine & spectacular views at Sunset Food & Wine, rustic seafood at Rockpool Cafe, high end pub food at the Ozone Hotel, Italian fare at the intimate Bella Cafe or contemporary cuisine in peaceful surrounds at Reflections Restaurant in American River, just to name of few options.
We love heading inland for a walk amongst nature - finished off with a picnic & wine of course! There are so many spectacular inland hikes across the whole Island, many remain open after January's bushfires & the regeneration of bushland will be spectacular as winter progresses.
Or book a weekend away at one of the Island's many nature-based accommodation like our wonderful friends at Ecopia Retreat, where nature is right on your doorstep.
Fires lit all season, stormy walks on the beach, flora & fauna at their peak (& the best season for fishing). Plus, in these quieter seasons it feels almost like the Island is just yours. We'll be inviting friends to reconnect with a weekend (or week) on the Island.
If we're lucky we'll do it at spectacular accommodation like Hamilton & Dune - what a stunning place for long chats, board games & wine by the fire. Pop some local lamb in the slow cooker to simmer all day & pair it with the Old Rowley for a simple but spectacular shared meal.
Kids running wild in the surf, mates downloading news of the week. For Islander's it beats rush hour traffic & crowded bars hands-down.
Our absolute favourite for beach sundowners is The Rose but when even we can't get it, we turn to our other bestie SoFar SoGood Sauvignon Blanc all those tropical fruit notes suit the setting so well. Popular spots include Hog Bay Penneshaw, Island Beach and Emu Bay.
While we're all home cooking right now with our isolation-buddies, there's nothing like spending the whole day preparing a feast for extended family & friends.
It's an act of love that deserves some cracking wines to while away the afternoon (Bark Hut Road hits the spot & pairs with so many dishes). How spectacular is the spot at Lifetime Retreat's The Cliff House?
Don't we miss the simple things? For us picnics need be no further than the lawns of our Tasting Room.
But we also love putting together a picnic of French charcuterie from Les Deux Coq, Alexandrina Fleurieu Peninsula cheeses, local produce & wine for guests (SoFar SoGood Shiraz is our favourite picnic red), then sending them to our team's favourite picnic spots. Just a few minutes away from the Tasting Room in Cygnet River, Duck Lagoon is a great place to start.
Between January's bushfires & the current Coronavirus we're most excited about the prospect of having the full team back together at The Islander Estate Vineyards.
Later in the year we hope to begin welcoming guests back for private barrel room tastings & to see the vineyard rejuvenation. It's a prospect that drives us forward in our mission to make the region's best wines.
Having spent the last month on Kangaroo Island assisting the vineyard recovery and crafting wines for bottling, Jacques shares this message of thanks and committment to the region.
The initial 6 weeks following the fire focussed on clean-up of the Estate and ensuring all areas are safe. It has lifted the spirits of our team to have the ruins of the vineyard manager's house and equipment sheds removed, all unsafe trees removed and the cleanup complete.
In more recent weeks we have shifted our focus to preparing the vineyard for potential regeneration. As a first step, amazing local volunteers spent countless hours manually removing the vineyard wiring and irrigation to prepare for the next phase.
They were followed by the incredible organisation that is Team Rubicon Australia, an international disaster response nonprofit that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans and first responders to provide relief to communities in need such as ours.
Working together in military unit style organisation, the team undertook the back-breaking task of cutting the vines thoughout the vineyard to just a few inches above the ground. By removing the burnt cordon and trunks, we allow the roots to focus all its energy on producing shoots for regrowth.
We have such gratitude for the many volunteers whose passion for our business continues to drive us towards recovery.
It will be Spring before we have a firm understanding of the areas of the vineyard that have produced shoots and survived the cold of winter, so we are largely in Mother Natures hands until September. However we see new promise in the vineyard each day.
Jacques has been back on the Kangaroo Island Estate he loves for the past month. In addition to assisting with the work in the vineyard Jacques has been tending to our wines in barrel and tank.
We are pleased to advise that our total wine stock loss was restricted to only 3 barrels (now part of a secret new product development).
All other wines were protected via the action of our team prior to the fires. With blending and bottling of a number of our 2019 vintage releases complete, we are excited to advise a number new wines are in pipeline and we look forward to releasing these over coming months.
Our Discoverer's Wine Club members will have exclusive access to new releases in the April wine club packs and there's still time to join.
For the safety of our staff, families, community & visitors our Tasting Room has closed as of 23rd March. However we welcome pickup orders & we are offering a local delivery service to your doorstep in many areas of Kangaroo Island.
To arrange a pickup order: Simply order online & select the PickUp tab in the checkout screen. We will contact you to arrange a collection time for your order & pop your wine in your boot. You can also order via phone at our Tasting Room (08) 8553 9008.
Local Delivery: For orders of 12 bottles or more we offer a complimentary delivery service to the following locations: Cygnet River, Emu Bay, Kingscote, American River, Island Beach, Penneshaw & other Dudley Peninsula locations. Place your order online or via phone at the Tasting Room.
Our online orders are flowing freely with delivery Australia wide via Australia Post. Please note that new conditions mean that Australia Post will only leave orders on your doorstep, no signatures will be collected for proof of delivery. When ordering, please add a note letting us know a safe place where Australia Post can leave your wine.
We are currently preparing some extra special packs for our most valued customers, our Discoverer's Wine Club members. Our April wine packs are expected to be despatched early next week & will be delivered by Australia Post as usual. There is still time to join the club, sign up online by Friday 27th March.
View through the bush-vine Shiraz to the pine forest beyond before the 10th January 2020 fire.
The same bush-vine Shiraz view post fire.
Summer 2019/2020 has seen the most devastating fire season Kangaroo Island has even known. Major fires, sparked by dry lightening strikes, began burning on Kangaroo Island mid-December. On January 3rd storms sparked new bushfires on the western end of the Island, the extreme weather conditions created a firestorm which burnt approx 30% of the western end of the Island including the Flinders Chase National Park several wilderness areas. On January 10th strong winds fanning existing firegrounds caused a second firestorm which pushed the fires east and north to claim a total of 48% and over 210,000 hectres of the Island.
This second fire, fuelled by nearby commercial pine plantations and the stunning Parndana Conservation area bordering The Islander Estate Vineyards property, caused the loss of our entire 280-hectare property including the farm, 11-hectare vineyard, vineyard equipment, irrigation, offices, wine lab, sheds, housing and water sources. The destruction also claimed the property’s 80 hectares of pristine remnant native bush and 150 hectares of cropping land.
View from the vineyard gate across the property pre-fire The same view post-fire Former offices & wine lab Vineyard manager's residence
A first step currently underway is to remove damaged irrigation and wiring from the vines to clear the way for any live vines to be cut back at ground level to encouraging new shoots before winter.
Like most fire-impacted wine businesses, we will not have a 2020 vintage but within the next few months, we fully expect to have plans in place for vintage 2021 and beyond.
All of our wine stocks have been preserved and our business is operating as normal from a sales perspective.
Continued support from our customers is critical to providing the financial resources to keep our staff engaged and to begin building towards recovery.
We will be undertaking a bottling in the new few weeks, which will ensure we have a continued supply of the majority of our most popular wines.
Our cellar door at Cygnet River was unaffected by the fire and is operating at its regular hours, 6 days a week, noon to 5pm (closed Wed).
The Cygnet River Artisan Trail has been untouched by fire and is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon supporting local wine, spirit, food and art producers.
Our online sales are flowing smoothly, sending orders Australia wide to our many wonderful customers & supporters.
Our Discoverer's Wine Club continues to grow and provide our most valued customers with excellent value and access to our limited and new releases.
The Estate's cropping land merging with remnant native bush pre-fire Post fire in the same spot
Some significant steps have already been made towards recovery, and we could not have taken these without an immemse amount of support from so many sources, some official, some unofficial, from friends, from neighbours, from volunteers and from total strangers who have offered to assist us along the way.
Thanks to the Australian Defence Force personnel who undertook so much of the clean up and heavy work of tree felling immediately following the fire when we were still in shock. They continue to assist us today in the vineyard. To Blazeaid and their volunteers who are helping so many to reestablish critical fencing across the Island.
To our neighbours, friends and families too numerous to mention but you know who you are and we have immense gratitude for your support.
To the fellow winemakers who have stepped in to actively help us assess the vineyard and offer us their resources: Mike Brown and the Gemtree team, Toby Bekkers from Bekkers Wines, Martin, Adam, Murray and the Shaw and Smith team.
While it will take some time to determine the future of our vineyard, one thing is in no doubt. We are more passionate and determined than ever to produce unique wines which show the true potential of Kangaroo Island as an emerging wine region.
We know the recovery effort will be huge and it will take a number of years for our small team to return to full production, but like all Kangaroo Islander’s we are resilient and resourceful, so the only way to move is forward.
The support from our customers in the form of kind words, messages of support and orders spurs us forward. So please come visit us on Kangaroo Island, bring your friends and family, drop into our cellar door for a tasting, visit our neighbours on the intimate Cygnet River Artisan Trail. We look forward to welcoming you.
The Islander Estate Vineyards has always represented the connection of two vastly different worlds of wine. The remote, untamed environment of Kangaroo Island, one of the world's newest wine regions. And the history and finesse of the Lurton family's six-generation Boardeaux wine heritage.
Our connection has never been stronger than now, as Jacques Lurton takes the reins as President and Chairman of the André Lurton group, following his father's passing in May.
Vignobles André Lurton includes 9 Châteaux including Château Couhins-Lurton, Château Dauzac, Château La Louvière and Château Bonnet, across 7 appellations - Pessac-Léognan, Margaux, Lussac-Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur, Entre-Deux-Mers and Graves.
Jacques role as owner and lead winemaker for The Islander Estate Vineyards will remain unchanged. As it has for the past 19 years, Kangaroo Island and The Islander Estate Vineyards remains the Jacque's special place for creative, hands-on winemaking.
Read the full annoucement at www.andrelurton.com