It's been a G'Day for over 160 years in the land down under
Historically, the Battle of Bosworth took place more than six centuries ago (1485 to be exact) and featured the last of the English Plantagenet kings, one Richard III, better known to everyone by his Shakespeare fame. The fact is, poor Richard was slain during the battle, the last English King to be killed in action. The Battle of Bosworth became the final engagement of the conflict officially known as the War of the Roses and has lastly become a footnote to ancient British history. Traverse the huge expanse of oceans and time from olden Great Britain to modern day Australia, or South Australia to be more exact, and the contemporary Battle of Bosworth comes into play. It is a winery located within the confines of Australia’s largest grape growing area, the region of McLaren Vale or more precisely, the Township of Willunga. It is generally agreed that this part of South Australia most closely mirrors the Mediterranean-type climate so prevalent in European vine growing.
The evolution of the Battle of Bosworth into a modern day winery is a story unto itself, having its origins in the 1830’s, when the first members of the Bosworth Family began the habitation of South Australia. By the late 1840’s, the Bosworths were actively growing grapes on their land and have continued that tradition unabated over the past 160 years. During the 1970’s, Peter and Anthea Bosworth established an entity called Edgehill Vineyards on former Almond groves and began producing exceptional fruit that was sold to some of Australia’s leading wineries, including Rosemount, Penfolds and Tyrells. It wasn’t long before the Bosworths and Edgehill Vineyards were considered among as elite growers in Australia.
Just after the turn of the present century, Joch (pronounced Jock) Bosworth, Peter and Anthea’s son who officially managed all of Edgehill’s vineyard holdings, decided to fulfill a long term dream. With the help of his life partner Louise Hemsley-Smith, the pair took the rather radical step of establishing their own winery that was now picturesquely to be known as Battle of Bosworth. “Joch was always particularly interested in the winemaking side of the business,” shared Louise Hemsley-Smith,” originally from England and who is also a co-owner of Battle of Bosworth. “The new winery made it also possible for him to make wines in his own style and present the wines in a manner that best suited our vineyards.”
Battle of Bosworth’s first release came in 2001 when a total of 1500 cases were offered for sale. By Australian standards, Battle of Bosworth’s case number represents a proverbial drop in the bucket in a land where wineries are generally much larger.
“We were delighted to be able to feature the uniqueness of our vines that are all organically grown,” added Hemsley-Smith, who also serves as the entity’s marketing director. “During the mid-1990’s, the family decided to go in an organic direction with regard to a certain section of their vineyards, which is not all that common in Australia. It is generally held that Australians as a group are mostly wine-oriented, but the idea of organic growing was fairly new. We have been delighted to find that, up to this point, most consumers seem to be open to the theory of organic growing and wines.” Hemsley-Smith sees Battle of Bosworth growing slowly and expects to reach an ultimate goal of around 5,000 cases within the next few years. That aspiration is smallish by Australian standards where quality and quantity are sometimes benchmarks for reputation.
“The Bosworths have been growers for so long it simply stands to reason they know what they are doing. Joch and I have agreed that when we reach a level we can no longer control, we will put a cap on expansion. It seems to us that 5,000 cases are about where we will wind up,” added Hemsley-Smith.
That is great news to Battle of Bosworth’s growing legions of worldwide supporters. The fledgling winery has garnered a great deal of critical acclaim in Australia and has been the recipient of a great deal of exposure in its national press while limiting itself to small international sales to Canada.
The choice of Battle of Bosworth as our International Selection is an excellent opportunity for American consumers to taste this outstanding selection of wines.
To be the youngest member of an iconic family of South Australian growers comes quite naturally to Joch Bosworth. As a matter of record, the art of growing grapes is practically all he’s ever known in his relatively short span of 35 years.
Joch vividly remembers handpicking grapes after school when he was either eight or nine, a family tradition that has continued unabated to this day. After completing his basic schooling, Joch traveled to New South Wales to attend Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, Australia’s version of America’s University of California-Davis, the country’s premier grape agriculture institution. He graduated in 1990 with a viticultural degree or associate diploma, Australia’s version of a bachelor’s degree. Soon thereafter, Joch Bosworth began a world wine odyssey that carried him to both the United States and later to Europe. He arrived in California during 1991 and began working for the renowned Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville where he was a grape sampler. The following year he ventured north to Washington State’s Willamette Valley Vineyards where he spent the vintage year in various capacities. The remainder of that year was spent traveling throughout France’s wine-growing regions until Bosworth eventually returned to Australia where he became vineyard manager for the well-known Goonawarra Vineyards in the Sunbury District of Victoria.
He remained in that position for the next three years until a call in 1995 from his parents prompted Joch’s decision to return to his family’s vineyard operation in McLaren Vale. His family had developed some 160 acres of prime vineyards and had even converted some special sections of their acreage to be farmed organically. ‘I always knew I would return to my family’s vineyards,” Bosworth recently explained. ‘I’ve loved working with the vines and my family decided to let me do what I wanted regarding their development.” Bosworth also pointed out that during his tenure at Goonawarra Vineyards, he had actually had the opportunity to set up a small winemaking facility on the site and thereby take his first step as a winemaker. He also admitted to making a small amount of grappa, the Italian version of brandy that he had become acquainted with on his European travels. That earlier winemaking experience ultimately led to the formation of Battle of Bosworth Winery.
‘I had always had in the back of my mind the idea of making my own wines, he admitted. ‘But until the opportunity presented itself, it somehow never got done. With Louise’s help, we were able to develop a small marketing plan and put it into being.” Joch Bosworth’s stated aim is to produce balanced, single vineyard wines that best express the qualities and characteristics of his vineyards. He also has in mind a particular wine style that he himself enjoys drinking and, as he also stated, ‘hopefully, so will others.”
He is adamant on keeping each wine single vineyard designated, with no outside blending. This process and Joch’s entire production method entails a great deal of hands-on involvement that is practical only is a small winery environment.
‘The reality is, that at Battle of Bosworth, we deal with a great number of individual barrels that each develops certain characteristics. To insure the desired result, it is necessary that all variables are manipulated correctly to achieve the effect we are seeking,” he added.
Joch is also pleased that his vineyards are among the few that are fully certified organic and is also proud to be on the cutting edge with dynamics such as the use of soursobs, or more precisely the Bermuda Buttercup as it is widely known. The Bermuda Buttercup is a pretty yellow flower that combats weeds in the vineyards and also serves a symbol that Bosworth uses on his label as a mini trademark. Such effort has earned Joch Bosworth a number of awards including recognition in 2000 as McLaren Vale’s top viticulturist. All the pieces seem to have come together for both Joch Bosworth and Battle of Bosworth Winery. Joch has been able to incorporate his European heritage into his winery and produce a variety of critically acclaimed wines of a nature and style that he prefers. The fact that he is atypical of many Australian wineries is unimportant, for with Joch Bosworth, the key ingredient to his success is a small, controlled environment.