The Jim Barry Story
Certain names resonate strongly within the halls of Australian wine history. Jim Barry is one such name. It was Jim Barry’s drive and community spirit that helped shape South Australia’s Clare Valley as a benchmark producer of world class Riesling and cemented its place as one of Australia’s premier wine regions.
Jim Barry Wines has a strong lineage. Jim himself was the first qualified winemaker in the Clare Valley, graduating with the 17th Degree in Oenology from the famous Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1947. Working for 22 years as winemaker at the Clarevale Co-operative, Jim Barry became a pioneer of Australian table wine. He then went on to establish Taylors Wines in 1969.
Wife, Nancy, proved a driving force in the formation of Jim Barry Wines and sons, Peter, Mark & John were involved in the company’s rise. Peter Barry became managing director in 1985. Today Peter’s children Tom, Sam and Olivia work for Jim Barry Wines as winemaker, commercial manager and brand ambassador respectively. Current custodian’s, Peter & Sue Barry, are deeply proud that Jim Barry Wines is still family owned, with three generations of Roseworthy graduates.
The Barry family name is synonymous with the Clare wine region and their deep ties to the local community continue to this day.
Jim and Nancy
Jim Barry commenced his wine career by studying Oenology (wine science) at Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1944.
In 1946, as a final year student, he undertook work experience at the Clarevale Cooperative. After graduating as the 17th qualified winemaker from Roseworthy, he accepted a position as Clarevale’s winemaker and chemist, making him the first qualified winemaker to work in the Clare Valley.
Jim and Nancy met when he was boarding in Clare while working at the Clarevale Co-operative. He proposed just six weeks later and they were married in 1950.
In 1959 Jim and Nancy purchased their first property and vineyards on the northern outskirts of Clare. The property was part of the original estate of Edward Burton Gleeson, founder of Clare, and known as Burton Cottage.
In 1964 they purchased 70 acres of prime river flats from Duncan McRae Wood in the Armagh area of Clare. This property would go on to be the foundation of their red wine production. In 1969, after guiding Clarevale for 22 years, Jim took on the challenge of helping to establish Taylor’s new winery and vineyards at Auburn (originally known as Chateau Clare Estate).
In 1974 the first “home-made” wines were produced at a new winery built on a hill behind Burton Cottage, with a spectacular outlook over the picturesque northern Clare Valley. In 1977 they purchased the 329 acre (133ha) Lodge Hill property, historically known as Wolta Wolta.
Jim and Nancy, with the help of their sons, purchased further sites including Clare River (1989), Jacka’s (1995) and John Knox Oval (1998) in Coonawarra, which help in contributing to our various wines today.
Jim Barry sadly passed away in Clare in 2004 and was recently honoured with a “Legends Hall of Fame” award at the 2014 Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend. Nancy played an active role in the business until her passing on the 12th of February 2018.
Tom and Olivia
Tom Barry is a third generation winemaker at Jim Barry Wines. He graduated from the University of Adelaide Waite Campus (formally Roseworthy Agricultural Collage) with the same degree in Oenology that his late grandfather Jim received sixty-three years earlier and his father in 1985. Jim Barry Wines is the first family owned winery in Australia to have three generations of Roseworthy/Waite graduates.
Tom’s interest in wine developed at a young age. When home from boarding school, he would spend all his time working in the vineyards or helping at the winery. As the Clare Valley is the Riesling capital of Australia, Tom’s interest in wine grew into a passion for Riesling. Tom completed vintages at Yalumba and Shaw + Smith before returning home to the family business. In 2010 he also completed a vintage with Dr Ernst Loosen in the Mosel Valley, Germany after a three-month market immersion in the USA. He then went on to work at Weingut Salomon in Austria for vintage 2011. Returning to Germany in 2016, Tom completed a short vintage at Dönnhoff in Oberhausen, in the wine-growing region of Nahe, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
From his travels, Tom has taken home a wealth of knowledge to strengthen the Jim Barry Wines brand and develop his winemaking skills. Tom will quietly continue the proud heritage and family philosophies of quality winemaking that has been firmly established at Jim Barry Wines over the three generations.
In 2013, Tom was named Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine’s ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ at a ceremony held in Sydney. In November 2013 Tom married his long-time partner, Olivia Hoffmann with a reception held at the beautiful Florita Vineyard.
Olivia Hoffmann-Barry graduated from Adelaide University with a BSc of Commerce in 2010. After university she spent three months with Tom as part of a market immersion in the USA and on her arrival back in South Australia she joined the company full-time as Communications Manager. Olivia has since completed a Masters of Wine Business and is now working as Export and Marketing Manager.
Sam and Millie
Sam Barry joined the Jim Barry Wines team in 2011 as Commercial Manager while studying at the University of Adelaide. He graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree specialising in accounting and finance.
Sam completed his first vintage as a cellar hand at Jim Barry Wines in 2007 and followed this with three consecutive part time vintages at the Wilson Vineyard at Polish Hill River, under the guidance of winemaker Daniel Wilson. In 2011 he completed two separate vintages with Hoddles Creek Estate in Victoria (Australia) and also in Italy at Benevelli Piero (Monforte d’Alba, Piemonte). 2013 saw him undertake vintage in Burgundy at Thibault Liger-Belair. Sam is currently completing his WSET diploma.
In 2013 Tom and Sam released The Barry Brothers Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, the first wine developed independently by the brothers. This wine, helped them become the youngest winemakers to take out the classic Australian Best Shiraz/Cabernet Blend Trophy at the 2014 Royal Melbourne Wine Awards. This followed a trophy win for The Barry Brothers at the 2014 Royal Queensland Wine Show.
In 2015, Sam Barry was selected by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority as one of 15 rising stars for its Future Leaders 2015 program.
Coordinated by Australian Grape and Wine Authority in partnership with Wine and Grape Growers Australia and Winemakers’ Federation of Australia, the program was designed to develop participants’ leadership capabilities and encourage innovation and thoughtful debate on the future of the sector.
“Future Leaders is about ensuring the next generation has the support and skills necessary to lead the way. There is a critical need for their innovation and fresh thinking in decision making,” WFA Chief Executive Paul Evans said.
The selection criteria helped uncover applicants with open, creative, inquisitive minds, leadership potential and demonstrated commitment to the success of the Australian wine sector.
Sam and his wife Millie have settled in the Clare Valley after marrying in November 2015. Millie is currently working at the Clare Valley Children’s Centre, whilst studying her Bachelor of Early Childhood Teaching at Charles Darwin University.
Olivia began working at the winery in 2009 after completing high school and continued in a part time cellar door role throughout her university studies. Olivia completed her first vintage at Jim Barry Wines in 2013, before taking a gap year in London where she worked as an ambassador for the company.
After completing a degree in Communications and Media Management at the University of South Australia in 2015, Olivia returned to Clare for a short time before moving to London in January 2016 to work for Negociants UK as an ambassador for Jim Barry.