Yarra Valley Pioneer Dies

Bailey Carrodus, iconoclastic founder of Australia's Yarra Yering winery, was 78
Oct 9, 2008

Dr. Bailey Carrodus, founder, owner and winemaker of the historic Yarra Yering winery in Victoria's Yarra Valley, died Sept. 19. His family would not specify the cause of death, other than to say it was a short illness.

Carrodus was one of the pioneers of the modern Yarra Valley wine industry, alongside Dr. John Middleton (Mount Mary) and Guill de Pury (Yeringberg). His 1973 vintage was the first commercial wine produced in the valley in more than 50 years.

A trained botanist, Carrodus had a doctorate in plant physiology from Oxford and was a scientist with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), a role he maintained for a decade after he founded Yarra Yering. He started the winery in 1969 by purchasing a 30-acre plot on silty slopes in the Yarra Valley. He expanded the holdings of the estate over the ensuing years, but the core of his production remained based around his original 1969 plantings.

He planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, later adding Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc and even some Pinot Noir and Viognier. He employed controversial methods, especially early in his career, when his reds often had high levels of volatile acidity and his whites included botrytis-infected grapes.

But his wines quickly gained a reputation for excellence, headed by his Red Wine No. 1 (a Bordeaux-style blend) and Red Wine No. 2 (Shiraz and Viognier), both of which feature in Langton's Classification of Australian Wine. Langton's, a leading Sydney auction house, began issuing its classification of Australian wines in 1991. Revised every five years, it reflects how the wines perform at auction.

While Carrodus produced a number of Yarra Valley white wines, his passion rested firmly with red. "Real wine is red and still," was one of his more famous sayings. Never one to make wine by the book, he lived by the philosophy, "If it doesn't work I'll just tip it out." He did just that with thousands of liters of Pinot Noir in one vintage, while in another he recalled his entire red wine production, offering a full refund.

The estate is now managed by longtime colleague and friend Tim Hampton, and owned by two close friends of Carrodus, whose names have not been released. For now, the winemaking team is headed by Carrodus' long-serving assistant in winemaking, Mark Haisma. Haisma is heading to Europe next year, and he and Carrodus had recently hired De Bortoli winemaker Paul Bridgeman to take over. Haisma will remain a consultant to Yarra Yering, returning at least twice every year.

"The legacy of Dr. Carrodus is strong and these vineyards will always be an expression of him," Haisma told Melbourne's Epicure magazine.

Carrodus died at home, surrounded by a small circle of family and close friends. He was buried the following week in the way he had requested, without pomp or ceremony.

Australia News

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