Winemaker Interview - Gareth Belton from Gentle Folk Wines
“I do make natural wine… that’s what I strive for, and if I fall under that current label, that’s fine.” - Gareth Belton
Continuing our project to interview as many great Australian winemakers as possible, today we want to introduce everyone to the very special wines of Gentle Folk in Adelaide's Basket Ranges. And… introduce their creator, Gareth Belton.
A word of warning, these wines are extremely limited and the Gentle Folk 100% Whole Bunch Piccadily & Scary Gully Pinot Noir’s from the 2019 vintage are some of the most beautiful characterful Australian Pinot’s we have tried so far this year. They ooze a natural charm that only inspired farming practices and sensitive winemaking can deliver.
Gentle Folk are truly unique Australian wines that express their origins and the ethos of their dedicated thoughtful maker.
Let’s get to know Gareth…! Enjoy the read.
How would you describe your signature style when it comes to your winemaking?
Hopefully always high on the drinkability scale with the majority of our wines. With Pinot noir and Syrah I am looking for the nose….it needs to draw you in and that first sip should last for ages in he mouth with juicy acidity. That’s why I love those two varieties from around here.
What would be your greatest wine drinking 'epiphany' moment?
Probably early days Adelaide Hills 'natural' wines. They were pretty mind-bending at the time and it’s been hard to look back. That said, I have been lucky enough to try some super burgundies around the 5-10 year mark that have stopped me dead in my tracks.
Who was your most influential winemaking mentor?
Various….James Erskine, Anton van Klopper and Taras Ochota made a big impact in the early days. Still do.
What inspired you to go down the biodynamic/organic/lo-fi path?
In terms of farming, I could see no alternative, I want to care for the land and for what I put into my body (and therefore we also care what we sell to other people to put into their bodies). It is not an easy path, trust me. Organic farming is time-consuming, expensive and at times frustrating. You have to truly believe in what you do in order to do it.
What wine style would we find the most of if we were to rummage through your cellar?
Chablis and Chianti
What’s your favourite knock-off drink?
Coopers Dark Ale
If you could only make wine from one vineyard or region, where would it be and why?
Gees that’s rough. Probably would have a good time if I was stranded in Tuscany.
Who designed your wine labels and what was the inspiration behind them?
Alex Harris. Great mate and a local. A super talented musician, artist and Dad. Makes a mean cup of tea too. In terms of inspiration, we like them to be minimal, it’s more about the wine than the label…but that said, its an expression of the region or vineyard and the wine. Some vineyards just scream for colour and fun. No rules.
What do you think is the most exciting variety in Australia right now?
If you weren't making wine, what would you be doing?
Diving for seaweed.
If your personal cellar was underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save first?
My last bottle of Raveneau, if I don't drink it tomorrow... (they tend to last only a few days around here until itchy fingers and corkscrews take over).
The Wine Experience Team