Going from a Bachelor of Literature to winemaking may not seem like an obvious route, but it’s the one taken by Gary Mills, owner of Jamsheed in the Yarra Valley. After completing his degree, Gary moved to Japan where he worked as an English teacher, before moving back to Australia and working as a Japanese-speaking tour guide in Queensland. Gary then had an ‘epiphany’, which saw him move to Margaret River and begin working in a vineyard. Following that, he did a five-week stint at Ridge Vineyards in California; these five weeks, however, turned into two years, after which he worked in Oregon and several Australian regions. In 2003, Jamsheed was born. The name is that of an ancient Persian king who was apparently the first to make wine - by accident. Yet there is no accident with Gary’s wines. He sources his fruit from premium vineyards around Victoria, allowing him much control over the final product. Gary’s syrah-based wines have even been compared to those from the Rhône Valley in France. As an independent producer, Gary is able to do what he likes with his wines, such as several Pétilllant Naturel wines or a Sagrantino, a grape popular in Italy, which is gaining a bigger following elsewhere.
Jamsheed releases wines under three different sub-labels: Jamsheed, Harem and Park. Ma Petite Francine is made from Cabernet Franc in the style of a Beaujolais nouveau (light and fruity), but unlike the French versions, it’s made only with indigenous yeast (that is, the yeast naturally present on the grapes). Candyflip and Hippyflip are Pétilllant Naturel wines, a Rosé and Chardonnay/Riesling blend, respectively, fermented in bottle and made for easy drinking. The Jamsheed label includes a Yarra Valley Syrah ‘Seville’ from a single vineyard, delivering dark berries, fine tannins and a long finish.
For more information on Jamsheed, head to their website.