Brockenchack Wines: A family endeavour

The Brockenchack family
Trevor Harch was living on the Sunshine Coast and running a successful business in construction, an industry that he had worked in since he was 20 years old. He fell in love with Barossa Shiraz from a young age and just as he started thinking about retirement, a few of his winemaking friends tapped him on the shoulder.  

A special vineyard came onto the market and they encouraged him to have a look. The Eden Valley vineyard had a unique microclimate which was perfect for growing delicate grapes like Pinot Noir. It was different from other South Australian vineyards and had a special landscape. Uniquely situated between two valleys, it benefited from a natural air tunnel that brought cool air in and pushed warm air out.

Trevor’s friends were 6th and 7th generation Barossa winemakers and there were at least six other people interested in the property. So, Trevor and his wife Marilyn, made the call to purchase it in 2007. They were picturing a beautiful retirement and didn’t realise that Brockenchack Wines would eventually become the line of business he continues to work in today. 

After all, the Riesling vines were planted in 1896 and were some of the oldest in Australia. It would have been a shame to not share them with his family and the rest of the world.

never die wondering

It didn’t take long for Trevor to turn his love affair and venture into a long-standing, multi-generational, family-run winery. He believes in caring for your vineyard and letting it speak to you. He soon noticed that if you do your preparation, the wine will turn out to be beautiful. 

Initially, he would pick his grapes, put them on a truck, and ship them 30 minutes down the road to his winemaker, Jo Irvine. After the wine was bottled, it would be brought back to a warehouse in the vineyard. 

A few years ago, Trevor put his money where his mouth was and converted the vineyard into a state-of-the-art winery and bottling plant. It might have luxury B&Bs on site today, but Jo Irvine is still making the wine and guests continue to enjoy tastings with Trevor at the historic cellar door. 

Everything in Trevor’s world revolves around family. Brockenchack is an amalgamation of his children’s names and his wines are named after the people that have meant the most to him. Now, he gets to watch his grandchildren move into their roles in the business and lead it into a new era.

Plant a Seed

The Brockenchack Wines vineyard
A bottle of Jack Harrison single vineyard Shiraz from Brockenchack Wines sitting on a wine barrel

If you have a good story, then don’t change it. That’s what wine and family are all about. Recognising when you have something good and sharing it with others.

It was always a dream of Trevor’s for his grandchildren to be able to be involved in his businesses. His eldest grandchild, Mack, recently came on board as an accountant and had the opportunity to work alongside Brockenchack’s Chief Financial Officer straight out of university. He joined just as the winery was being built, and got to have a sink or swim experience right at the start of his career. Trevor’s other grandchild, Jack, has also been living at the Eden Valley home since graduating high school in 2018 and has taken over day-to-day management of the property and introduced Black Angus cattle to the portfolio.

According to Mack, “Some people say not to do business with friends and family because someone might get too greedy. But, in this family, we’re not afraid to tell each other how it is. We know when to tell someone to pull their head in. At the same time, we know how to connect with one another. That holds everyone in the right stead and no one has an ego. We’re all working towards the exact same thing. Brockenchack Wines is built off some very hard work from Grandpa and Dad, and a lot of other very important team members. They might not be blood family, but we still consider them one of us. For example, the Grenache is named after Megan, who has been Trevor’s PA since she was 20 years old.”

The four grandchildren of the Brockenchack family

Hold Onto What You've Got

Trevor sees himself tending to his grapes until the age of 103 and Mack doesn’t know how he does it. “He could be sipping wine in a penthouse on the Sunshine Coast instead. But, he’s just a remarkable human being that literally knows no limits. He pushes himself every day. Grandpa always says that his mother told him to leave the world in a better place for his family than when he came into it. I think that’s the motto that keeps him going.”

Mack has learnt that while you need to be adaptive, there are many things in winemaking that always stay the same. You need to adapt to peaks and troughs in demand while experimenting with new varietals, but at the same time, you have to hold true to who you are. If you have a good story, then don’t change it. That’s what wine and family are all about. Recognising when you have something good and sharing it with others.

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