While I was staying in Adelaide Hills, I took a few day trips out to Barossa and McLaren Vale. While in The Vale, I visited with Brad Hickey at Brash Higgins. We emailed back and forth trying to schedule something and he alerted me that harvest would probably be just beginning upon my arrival and did I want to get my hands dirty. Um, yes. Bring on the grapes! When I pulled up to the cellar, several tons of shiraz from their Omensetter vineyard were arriving as well. Grapes come in, they are destemmed (some are left on the stems), and dumped into open-top fermenters. Brad was doing a mix of whole berry and whole cluster fermentation AND some foot stomping, in which I got to partake.
After working up a little sweat I got to taste the current Brash Higgins line-up as well as several things out of barrel. Brad is a former NYC wine director and sommelier that, after a visit to McLaren Vale, decided to leave the city behind and move to Australia. Everyone arrives at their place in the wine world via different paths and it’s always so interesting see how.
Still a somewhat young operation, I’m excited to see what Brad has up his sleeve. He was the first one in the area to really work with nero d’avola (the hot climate there does very well with Sicilian varieties) as well as ferment in clay amphora, something that others are now doing. He’s a trendsetter with vision and amazing ability to market wines. I’m sure that savvy ability comes from years working the floor of fine dining establishments – he knows how to sell wine and what people want. He also has one of the best wine vocabularies I’ve ever heard. He’s like a damn poet when describing the sensory experience of a wine.
Thanks to Brad, Nicole, and the BH crew for letting me crash harvest, foot stomp for the first time, and ride around the vineyard on a four wheeler!