In the 1960s, seeking to make the elegant and complex wines he had enjoyed while studying in Europe, the late Bailey Carrodus researched vineyard sites in cool regions in Australia, and settled on Yarra Valley.Starting in 1969, he pioneered the revival of winemaking in the valley, which had been a noted production region until the 1920s. Applying his training as a botanist to his strong vision, he devoted considerable effort to establishing and managing the vineyards. In the winery he was equally single-minded, applying his own approach to winemaking, including developing 0.5-tonne ‘tea chest fermenters’ lined with stainless steel and adding a basket containing only stems to the fermenter. He quickly gained a reputation for the singularity and quality of his wines, which though expensive and only sold at the winery on limited days, created queues of enthusiasts lining up to buy them.1. In the winery the open tea chest fermenters designed by Dr Carrodus are still used today.2. Dr Carrodus hand-plunging.3. George Telehin, vineyard institution, has managed the vineyards at Yarra Yering for over 30 years, from Dr Carrodus’s time though to today.When Dr Carrodus passed away in 2008, many were worried about the future of the winery, but the new owners who had been guests and friends of the winery, continue to operate the vineyard with the same philosophy. In 2013, Sarah Crowe joined as winemaker, and she has refashioned the proud tradition to bring the vineyards and winery up to date, renew focus on individual blocks, and engage the market.James Halliday, Australia’s premier wine critic, named Sarah Crowe “Winemaker of the Year” at the Qantas EpiQure 2017 Halliday Wine Companion Awards. He noted: “She has made red wines of the highest imaginable quality from her first vintage, and to the delight of many, myself included, has offered all the wines with screwcaps.”That was just the start. In August 2021 Yarra Yering was named No.1 in The Real Review’s Top Wineries of Australia 2021* and awarded the double at the 2022 Halliday Wine Companion Awards of “Winery of the Year” and “Wine of the Year”. It’s no exaggeration to say Yarra Yering is the hottest producer in Australia right now. We talked with Sarah Crowe about Yarra Yering today and her vision for the future.* The Real Review is a wine information website created by leading New Zealand and Australian wine writers Bob Campbell MW and Huon Hook. Based on the scores of more than 10,000 bottles of wine that the two taste each year, they have created a top winery list each year since 2018.https://www.therealreview.com/The 29ha of vineyards at Yarra Yering spread along the gentle foot of the Warramate Hills are planted in diverse varietals. The Yarra Valley is a cool production area, notable for an extended growing season that favours the development of flavour without the sugar content rising too high, and a large temperature difference between day and night that maintains acidity, enabling the production of a wide variety of high-quality wines. The siting of the vineyards is important to take advantage of this climate, and Sarah praised the foresight of Dr Carrodus who planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Portuguese varietals in what was thought to be a marginal climate in the 1960s. She admires how Bailey was constantly thinking about better ways to do things, and continually improving processes.◆ If you could talk with the late Dr CarrodusWhen asked what she would like to talk about if she could meet Dr Carrodus, Sarah said, “Wow! That’s a good question! I’d like to discuss how we have changed our approach. It’s completely different over my 20 years, so I want to know about changes in making wines in the early days.” The vineyards are constantly evolving, and Sarah is always experimenting, currently expanding the Marsanne and Roussanne vineyards, and trying out new varietals and clones. She says it’s important to start with a small trial, and if it works, to expand the scale the next year, to gradually verify the effect.◆ Keep trying new things“Rather than just accepting that the past of Yarra Yering will determine our future, how can we express the attractions of the vineyards heritage, and make them more pure? At the same time, I want to anticipate what we will be doing in 50-years’ time,” says Sarah. “The Yarra Valley is also affected by global warming, with the harvest two weeks earlier than 30 years ago, stronger sunlight, and in some years even sunburn on the grapes. So, we always need to try new things.”◆ Quality wine isn’t cheapYarra Yering wines may not be a cheap wine for young people, but Sarah says hope they will “want to be able to buy them in the future.” The 2017 Winemaker of the Year award appealed to young people, boosting numbers visiting the winery for tastings. This year’s Winery of the Year awards have seen a jump in visitors to the website and on-line, although the chance to taste in person has disappeared due to the Covid lockdowns. She hopes people have confidence in the wines to buy them, and wants to keep in close touch with the market in the future.◆ 20 years after deciding to work as a winemakerA beer drinker, Sarah’s love for wine and vineyards began in 1999 as she travelled through Southern France, and fascinated by the vines and vineyards, decided to work in a winery when she returned home. She started as a 26-year old at Broken Wood in the Hunter Valley, initially as a seasonal worker pruning vines, going on to work there for eight years while she studied viticulture and winemaking at college. Now, 18 years later, as winemaker and general manager of Yarra Yering, she is blazing a new path at this legendary winery.On her days off she enjoys playing with her dog, gardening, bushwalking, cooking and drinking with his friends.Other notable achievements:2009 Received the Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association’s Hunter Legends “Rising Star of the Year” Award2010 Selected as one of 12 people to participate in the Len Evans Tutorial.2010 Participated in the Australian Wine Industry “Future Leaders Program”.2018 Chair judge/judge at many competitions, including the Hunter Valley Wine Show.Please also read the interview Yarra Yering with Sarah Crowe in our Autumn 2018 Catalogue in which she discusses the challenges she has faced following in Dr Carrodus’s footsteps.