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About Gemtree Vineyards

In 1980 Paul and Jill Buttery took a chance and put all their hard earned money, with some help from the bank, into buying a vineyard on Tatachilla Road, in the heart of the McLaren Vale Wine Region

After a few years, the Buttery’s bought another vineyard with land on the eastern side of the region in the foothills near McLaren Flat and called it Gemtree. They set about gradually planting the rest of the land.

While their daughter Melissa had already completed an Associate Diploma in Business, it was in 1994 where Melissa decided that she too would make a career out of grape wrangling.

Melissa is now a qualified viticulturist and manages the Gemtree Vineyards, as well as other vineyards for customers of the Terraces Vineyard Management, an offshoot of Gemtree.

In 1997, Andrew returned from Melbourne to manage The Terraces and in 1998, the Buttery family launched the Gemtree wine label.

Mike Brown soon entered the picture as not only a winemaker, but Melissa’s future husband. Having gained valuable experience at d’arenberg wines, the Buttery family invited Mike to be their chief winemaker.

Today Gemtree owns 330 acres of prime vineyard with varieties such as Shiraz, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Savagnin and Verdelho.

Since 1998 Gemtree has been developing the 10 ha Gemtree Wetlands. Having created six dams and planted in excess of 50,000 native trees, they are now working in partnership with Greening Australia creating an area of biodiversity which is a major haven for native plants, frogs, birds and other animals, as well as being a great teaching resource for the community. Their ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability has led to the Gemtree vineyards being farmed biodynamically since 2007. These practices have continued through into the winery and we are now seeing the first 100% biodynamic Gemtree wines being released onto the market.



About the Vineyard

Gemtree Wines have 340 acres of organically certified vines across three vineyards, Gemtree North Vineyard, Gemtree South Vineyard and Tatachilla Vineyard. The vineyards have distinct terroir and include some of the oldest soil portfolio in McLaren Vale ranging from loams, to clays and sands.

Gemtree Vineyards comprise of the following varieties:

  • Chardonnay
  • Verdelho
  • Riesling
  • Pinot Noir
  • Merlot
  • Shiraz
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Tempranillo
  • Petit Verdot
  • Sangiovese



About the Region


The McLaren Vale is a wine region approximately 35 km south of Adelaide in South Australia. It has a population of about 2,000 and is internationally renowned for the wines it produces. The region was named after either David McLaren, the Colonial Manager of the South Australia Company or John McLaren (unrelated) who surveyed the area in 1839. Among the very first settlers to the region in late 1839, were two English farmers from Devon, William Colton and Charles Thomas Hewett. William Colton established the 'Daringa Farm' and Charles Thomas Hewett established 'Oxenberry Farm'. Both men would be very prominent in the very early days of McLaren Vale.

Although initially the region's main economic activity was the growing of cereal crops, John Reynell and Thomas Hardy planted grape vines in 1838 and the present-day Seaview and Hardy wineries were in operation as early as 1850. Grapes were first planted in the region in 1838 and some vines more than 100 years old are still producing. Today there are more than 88 cellar doors in McLaren Vale. The majority are small family-run operations and boutique wineries.

McLaren Vale has a Mediterranean climate with four clear seasons. With a dry warm Summer, the area has dry weather from December through to March or April, giving an easy change between summer and winter. It is gentle with long warm days and short cool nights. Winter rains of 580-700mm per annum flow into a fresh spring. The region rarely experiences frost or drought due to its close proximity to the sea.

The region has typically been well known for it's Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, and is increasingly becoming known for the cultivation of Mediterranean varieties.



Biodynamic Practices

Gemtree was Organically certified in 2011, and a Biodynamic winegrower since 2007, at Gemtree the number one priority is to improve soil, and in turn vine health. This is done by employing the following methods:

  • 140 Sheeps used to keep weeds in the vineyard under control
  • Undervine mechanical weeder
  • Composted grape marc under the vines (Grape skins and seeds post pressing)
  • Application of biodynamic 500 and 501 preperations to the soil and vine canopy
  • Minimal use of tractors to reduce soil compaction



Viticulture & Winemaking

The Gemtree approach to winemaking is in line with their approach to Viticulture, wild yeast ferments are used for most wines, and importantly vineyards picked earlier based on flavour, rather than searching for big high alcohol wines.

The wines are bottled without filtration or fining, with the addition of tannin and acid kept to a minimum based on the vintage.



Ordering the Wines

Gemtree offers all wines online via their website, as well as having Wine Club options available.



My Thoughts on the Wines

Over the last few years i continue to impressed by Gemtree wines, the concentration and fruit driven nature of their wines is to be commended, as is their commitment and implementation of biodynamic principles. Gemtree represent exceptional value with the Uncut shiraz in particular a consistent performer in the $20 - $30 bracket.


The current vintages of wines that have been reviewed can be seen by following this link