First Creek Wines and Tulloch Wines’ smoked grapes have been resuscitated thanks to Australia’s leading and most highly awarded distillery, Archie Rose Distilling Co.

Australia’s recent terrible bushfire season which rampaged through one of New South Wales’ most highly regarded wine regions – the Hunter Valley – has subsequently seen up to 80 per cent of the region’s fruit written off due to smoke taint from nearby bushfires.

Announced mid-February 2020, Archie Rose Distilling Co. quickly stepped in to collaborate with these two small Pokolbin-based grape growers to ensure that these fruits were rebirthed as part of a new trial spirit.

“This collaboration with Archie Rose is not only a wonderful thing for the growers of the Hunter region who have been hit with the triple threat of drought, bushfires and smoke, but also a fantastic example of innovative and talented people pushing the boundaries in their fields,” says CEO of Tulloch Wines and President of the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association, Christina Tulloch.

“We are really proud to be a part of helping bring this project together and we can’t wait to see what the team at Archie Rose can do with some smoke-tainted fruit and their pioneering spirit.”

Experimenting with over 50 tonnes of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon grapes, Archie Rose Distilling Co. are looking to use the smoke-tainted grapes which will be made into wine before being delivered to the Sydney-based distillery for further production into a potential brandy and/or limited-edition spirit – all thanks to Archie Rose’s production team (master distiller Dave Withers and senior distillery Trynt Xavier).

So what are smoke-tainted grapes? This damage can be caused by a crop’s proximity to a fire, its elevation, variety and days in smoke contact.

In already challenging drought conditions, the Hunter Valley faces a 24 per cent reduction in tonnage of grapes grown in 2020 – now compounded by smoke taint, bringing the estimated crop loss to 80-90 per cent for the year already.

“This has created a bleak picture for Hunter wine producers this year with the potential for long term economic and agricultural damage to the oldest wine region in Australia and the second most visited NSW destination outside of Sydney,” says Tulloch. “We’re all feeling the effects, particularly smaller grape growers who will end up with very little vintage income this year.”

Archie Rose will reveal more plans for how they will be using the smoke-tainted wine over coming months. “We plan on reaching out to our industry mates to help bring this product to life, with the view to collaborating on something outstanding that demonstrates the very best in Australian spirits collaboration,” says Archie Rose Distilling Co. Founder, Will Edwards.

For more information visit Archie Rose Distilling Co.