In 1991, having just married and completed their winemaking degrees, Sarah and Sparky Marquis dreamt of starting their own business. They first started winemaking at Fox Creek in McLaren Vale, owned by Sarah’s parents. In 1994, they developed their Marquis Vineyard Watering Program, which promotes healthy vines and the perfect fruit weight. Along the way, they collected awards for their wines, such as ‘Australian Boutique Winemakers of the Year’ and ‘Australian White Winemakers of the Year’. Following a decision to focus on bulk wine their fortunes deflated when the market bottomed out and they returned to the premium wine market, working at Henry’s Drive, Parson’s Flat and Shirvington, as well as setting up their own brand, Marquis Phillips. Success followed, to the point where revered wine critic Robert Parker became one of their biggest fans, where they went from making 8,000 cases to 120,000 cases in four years. Again, misfortune closed in, to the point where they had only $17 in the bank. A local businessman listened to their tale and left them with a cheque to help them get through the next month. Friends, staff and grape growers all rallied around to assist. This all led them towards starting their own brand, Mollydooker, Australian slang for a left-handed person. For their first vintage in 2006, Robert Parker rated three of their wines as the first, second and fourth best value wines in the world. Their wines sold out in 19 days and all their debts were paid off. The rollercoaster ride for Sarah and Sparky continued somewhat, and while their marriage and business partnership is no more, Mollydooker continues to achieve great things.
The range of wines is too extensive to fully list, although some stand-outs are: ‘The Violinist Verdelho’, ‘Two Left Feet Shiraz Cabernet Merlot’, and the premium ‘Velvet Glove Shiraz’.
For more information on Mollydooker and its story, check out the website.