“When Ian Tyrer first moved to Mt Barker to set up Galafrey Wines he made an agreement with his Melbourne-born wife, Linda. He said after six months he would ask her if she liked what they were doing and if she did not they would move back east.” Twenty two years on I still have not ask that question” Ian Tyrer said with a laugh”
Toast to the Coast.
February 1999 Countryman Newspaper
I love that article about Ian and the beginning of Galafrey. It sums up his sense of humour and how they both left their careers in the computer industry to start a vineyard in Mt Barker. They dug holes at every property they visited trying to find the prefect block to start a vineyard. North facing, gravel loam, high altitude and here we are!
Ian and Linda Tyrer brought the former sheep and orchid property in 1976 and started planting a vineyard in 1977. In those day you were given a list of available cuttings from the Ag Dept and choose accordingly.
Ian and Linda choose to plant Chardonnay, Riesling, Muller,Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon on 12 Ha. and in 1978 Cyclone Alby hit the region. While no real damage to the vineyard it certainly gave Ian and Linda a welcoming to rural life, bush fires and fallen trees.
Did you know Galafrey was one of the first people to planted Pinot Noir in WA! Inherently we had a big block of Pinot. And people loved it! “ This is the best Pinot ever!” they would say. Once the vineyard become more established Ian noticed that there was more than one variety of Pinot in the block. There was a world Pinot expert in WA and he come down to visit. He noted that this was Upright, and droopy Pinot and the rest was Shiraz. Well know wonder people loved the wine, it was practically Shiraz!
Why Muller? Suggested to us by a wine expert as a fruit driven style that would sell well at cellar door., and doesn’t it ever! Ray Jordan often writes about our Muller quoted as “ been championed by Tyrer.”
It was hard work for Linda and Ian who often manage a day time job and worked the vineyard on the weekends before heading back to Perth for Monday Morning totally wreaked.. They made the commitment to leave Perth and live on the vineyard. They sold fruit off the orchid at markets. Hard work paid off with a profit of $20 when Linda refused to do that again. Then Ian got a job at Mt Barker tower. Ian gain experience working at Houghton's and Plantagenet wines one vintage and relied on advice of many friends within the industry.
In 1982 we had our first Cellar door and vintage at our converted shed winery. Re photo above.
“...Galafrey Run by the assiduously eccentric Ian Tyrer and wife Linda, is content to do its own thing. Just to underline the
ccentricity, Galafrey is the only small winery in Australia with an outright surplus of space, situated as it is cavernous confines of an 80 year old wool store in Albany.”
James Halliday .
In 1984 Galafrey moved to Albany. Why? Because it was easier to the winery than tourist. With Albany being a major tourism town Galafrey looked for an opportunity to move the winery and cellar door. At the time the wool store was up for tender and Linda and Ian put in an offer. Then they received a phone call that they won the tender and then the bank refused to lend them the money. In a bit of a pickle Ian quickly suggested he had met a man at a rural show from a rural bank and proceed to give him a call and they lent them money. The woolstore was a huge building. In the offices we built an apartment style house were we lived. As it was down the bottom of York street we lived opposite 3 pubs, a night club, gents toilets and a taxi rank. So Many stories!! The best I guess was when people stayed. Once at 3am the street cleaner come pass, flashing lights and noise and our guest were running around the house confused and commenting on whether or not they are to be taken by aliens!! We had great events with the Jazz in the Winery being a bit annual hit as well as being apart of the Fredericks Town Festival. It was very radical at the time to watch wine being made with a cellar door over viewing the winery. The cellar door was also very unique as Linda hand painted the largest wine mural.
We started to wine awards. The 1985 Cabernet sauvignon won a trophy . We were the first in the region to make bottle fermented Sparkling wine with the 1985 Sparkling Cab Sauv and 1997 Sparkling Riesling
Ian often travelled back and forward to the vineyard in Mt Barker. On weekends we would make a day of it cooking sausauges on home made bbqs, baked potatoes in bonfires and many a picnic lunch. The photo top left in a good example of sitting on a wooded box stoking the fire.
In 1989 a major hail storm hit the vineyard wiping out our Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. I remember the day well as I got the day of school. The vines looked chewed up and not a leaf in sight. The boundary fence looked like a hedge. That’s were all the leaves and canes were. It takes 3 years to get over a hail storm. One year vintage gone followed by a difficult prune, next year vintage minimal due to a poor prune followed by a tired year of re-establishing yourself in the market. And of course it was our two leading varieties Riesling and Cabernet sauvignon.
One of the biggest challenges over the years has been tax. In 1986 the government started taxing wine with 10 per cent sales tax and then over the years the tax rose and now sits at 29% Wine equalization tax plus 10 % GST. Still to this day the WET tax is widely debated within the Industry and the ATO.
TO BE CONTINUED PART 2......