Jim Barry commenced his wine career by studying Oenology (wine science) at Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1944.
In 1946, as a final year student, he undertook work experience at the Clarevale Cooperative. After graduating as the 17th qualified winemaker from Roseworthy, he accepted a position as Clarevale’s winemaker and chemist, making him the first qualified winemaker to work in the Clare Valley.
Jim and Nancy met when he was boarding in Clare while working at the Clarevale Co-operative. He proposed just six weeks later and they were married in 1950.
In 1959 Jim and Nancy purchased their first property and vineyards on the northern outskirts of Clare. The property was part of the original estate of Edward Burton Gleeson, founder of Clare, and known as Burton Cottage.
In 1964 they purchased 70 acres of prime river flats from Duncan McRae Wood in the Armagh area of Clare. This property would go on to be the foundation of their red wine production. In 1969, after guiding Clarevale for 22 years, Jim took on the challenge of helping to establish Taylor’s new winery and vineyards at Auburn (originally known as Chateau Clare Estate).
In 1974 the first “home-made” wines were produced at a new winery built on a hill behind Burton Cottage, with a spectacular outlook over the picturesque northern Clare Valley. In 1977 they purchased the 329 acre (133ha) Lodge Hill property, historically known as Wolta Wolta.
Jim and Nancy, with the help of their sons, purchased further sites including Clare River (1989), Jacka’s (1995) and John Knox Oval (1998) in Coonawarra, which help in contributing to our various wines today.
Jim Barry sadly passed away in Clare in 2004 and was recently honoured with a “Legends Hall of Fame” award at the 2014 Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend. Fortunately Nancy continues to play an important role in the everyday running of the business.
Jim Barry Wines’ philosophy to winemaking is to own the vineyards to develop the best fruit flavours possible and retain these flavours during winemaking. The Barry Family firmly believe that great wine is made in the vineyard. Over 55 years they have worked to establish a mosaic of vineyards across the Clare Valley, each unique in site, soil and aspect. In addition to this, they have two vineyards in the Coonawarra region, where they grow Cabernet Sauvignon on the famous Terra Rossa soils.