Small Fry is Suzi Hilder & Wayne Ahren’s family wine label, perched evenly upon two particularly special vineyards. Their first vineyard was established in 1994 in the higher hills of the Eden Valley. Propagated & planted themselves, the 50Ha property has 9.5Ha under vine. Between 1994 and 1998 Riesling, Shiraz & Cabernet were propagated from local cultivars & planted ungrafted; i.e. on their own rootstock. As magnificent as this softly undulating, breezy hilltop site is, the gravitas underpinning Suzi & Wayne’s project is their 18Ha property in the Barossa Valley’s Vine Vale district, purchased in 2007.
The Vine Vale vineyard has 14Ha under vine. Its original plantings are constrained to a large block referred to as Schlieb’s Garden, a nod to the Ken Schlieb and his ancestors, who held the vineyard in their family from the 1850s until selling to Wayne & Suzi. These oldest plantings date back to the 1850s (within only a few years of the settlement of the Barossa Valley). These original plantings are Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet, Mataro, Cinsault & Semillon. About a third of the total area currently under vine was planted in the 1960s by its previous ward, Ken Schlieb. Subsequently, grafted onto some of this rootstock are Tempranillo, Roussanne & Marsanne, which are accompanied by small amounts of Pedro Ximinex, and additional plantings of Carignan & Cinsault.
As dedicated & hands-on biodynamic farmers, an incredible input into the vineyards takes place all year and come harvest the processing of fruit is kept simple to highlight the purity of the fruit & vineyards.
Varietal wines from Barossan staples are produced with a mainstream appeal though always looking to freshness & nature rather than wood & tannin.
Classic styles such as Riesling, Cabernet, Shiraz & blends are accompanied by an ever growing array of experimental batches, including the amber wine, Tangerine Dream; light red, Stella Luna; a Riesling & Roussanne blend called Isolar, and a red from a group of vines that Wayne & Suzi feel have not been identified correctly yet.