Dating back to 1851, the 75ha of hills and valleys that encompass the Mt Bera property were originally developed as commercial orchards. The conversion to vineyards in the late 1990’s was undertaken by the previous owner, but it has been the drive and passion of the Horner family that has transformed the property into what it’s known for today.
Moving to South Australia from Sydney was only meant to be a year adventure whilst their home was being renovated, along with providing their children an experience of living in a rural environment. Upon arriving in Adelaide and having no intentions of buying property, they were given details of Mt Bera’s sale from a friend and the rest as they say, is history.
“We didn’t find Mt Bera – it found us. By the time we got to the top of the 1km driveway, we had bought it. We instantly fell in love with the old homestead, the rugged hills and massive gums – the remoteness – yet closeness to the centre of Adelaide. Some people plan what they want to do, but for us the unplanned events always seem to work out the best.”
Greg (an aeronautical engineer) and Katrina had very little knowledge about how to run and maintain a vineyard. They loved wine, but that was as far as it went. With both having grown up on farms and vowing to never be involved in primary production after watching the difficulties that came with the industry – they threw caution to the wind and followed their heart. With the help of consultants, other wineries and lots of books and courses, they learnt fast.
After seven years and six vintages, the 2015 Samspon Flat Bushfire could have easily ended their dreams when they were almost completely burnt out. Twenty-five thousand vines were cut back to ground level and kilometres of posts, wires and dripper lines were replaced. But with unwavering motivation, dedication and hard work over the last years – the restoration of the 15ha of vineyards is now back in full production.
The advantage of having a wide variety of micro-climates in the hills and valleys of the property has enabled them to have an extraordinary range of grape varieties in such a small area. Pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, shiraz, zweigelt, blaufrankisch and tempranillo make up the varieties for the reds and pinot gris, gruner veltliner and sauvignon blanc for its whites, spread over three vineyards on the main historic property and a small fourth at the Cellar Door Estate.
Their focus has always been to produce estate grown, single vineyard, natural wines that fully express the terroir – the soil, the climate, the topography and the biodiversity of their site. Their philosophy is to assist nature rather than fight against it – aiming at minimizing any intervention and working with nature to produce the most complex, balanced wines possible.
Upon taking over the vineyard, they immediately converted to organic and biodynamic practices to repair years of commercial use of the land and although not certified, they are extremely committed. They are passionate about minimizing their footprint by maximizing biodiversity and assisting native plants, birds and animals through habitat support. For the Horner family, sustainability is not enough – the systems of regeneration need to be enhanced to allow natural recycling and increasing health of the overall ecosystem.
Mt Bera Vineyards has always been a family affair for the Horners. Along with their four children, Greg and Katrina have been involved in every aspect of the business – the land, the vines, the wines and animals. Now with their expansion into the new Cellar Door and Restaurant, their ‘family’ has also expanded to include their new Head Chef Robin Wagner and wonderful team front and back of house. This spirit and passion that has always infused Mt Bera Vineyards is now tangible through the lovingly created menu – focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced locally and organically wherever possible, all perfectly paired with Mt Bera wines.
“We hope you enjoy your experience with us.”
– from our family to yours