Gareth Benton, from Gentle Folk Wines, began his winemaking career via a pretty unexpected route. It was during his time training as a marine biologist, as well as enrolling for a PhD researching seaweed, that he met winemaker James Erskine, from Jauma Wines. Mid-vintage, Gareth was encouraged by James to produce his own barrel of wine, and it seems he caught the wine bug. He thus turned his back on his PhD (‘no one wants to pay you to go diving and bring back seaweed’, he said), and rather than studying wine, he decided to learn all about it through experiential hands-on experience. In addition to James Erskine, Gareth was helped along by Taras Ochota and Anton von Klopper, two “superstar” winemakers who also happen to live in the Adelaide Hills region. For the first few years, Gareth bought his fruit from a variety of local growers, until a vineyard in Forest Range came up for sale. It is this vineyard, called Scary Gully, from which he now derives much of his fruit for his diverse collection of wines. Over the course of a couple of years, Gentle Folk Wines has emerged as one of Australia’s hugely successful wine labels and vineyards.
Gentle Folk offers a wide range of wines, with a particular focus on their production of Pinot Noir. Fruit, used for wine production, is sourced from Gareth’s own Scary Gully, as well as other vineyards in the Adelaide Hills. The two premium drops are: the Father’s Milk Pinot Noir, made to celebrate the birth of Gareth’s and Taras’ new children, from a very rare pinot noir clone called Geisenheim 18; and the Scary Gully Pinot Noir, a mix of three clones that delivers a refined and powerful wine. One of the most popular wines, Positive Vibration, was made in the style of a Beaujolais nouveau (light and very fruity), with a mix of pinot noir and gewürztraminer.
Check out Gentle Folk’s website for more information on their range.