In 1993 we moved the winery back to the vineyard building a custom built shed. To make things interesting we moved during vintage. Tank were drop off outside the shed, as the grapes cam in dad picked a tank brought it inside and filled it. Crazy times. It was nicknamed Camp Quangellup as we camp most nights there during vintage with a crew of people. Linda’s dad was a carpenter and building structures like a lab, a room to live in, makeshift kitchen and so on. Ian was moving the winery as the wine came in and Linda was still travelling everyday to Albany to do cellar door. We ended up living in the winery/shed for 3 years before Linda finally got to build not only her dream home but the first real home in 1995. As I was away at boarding school my room wasn’t make bigger than my boarding house room. Enough room for a bed, desk and wardrobe. A simple partin with a curtain. Later when we moved Ian put a roof and door on it and stored dry goods like filter pads and corks in it. Mum was appalled.
We won more awards. In 1991 Trophy for our Riesling at the Sydney International and 1994 Riesling at WA SGIO Awards. In 1996 our Cabernet Sauvignon was in the TOP 10 wines for the decade among Australian greats like Grange. 3rd in the Wine of The Year for our 1998 Riesling was also a highlight. Our 2001 Unwooded Chardonnay won gold at the Perth wine show and so bean the era of Unwooded Chardonnay. We couldn’t keep up. We were making 1000+ dozen and selling it all, easily. Our 2000 SSB as won a gold at the Sydney Top 100 international.
In 2000 saw the growth of the wine industry double followed by the infamous Wine Glut. The Great Southern alone double growth and many vineyards were planted increasing production. But it was unsustainable with more wine in Australia being made than drink and it effected everyone, including us. Told to look for export market Galafrey secured a contract with a large Japanese firm and we double production for 100 tonne to 220 tonne only to have the deal fall through and the wine remain unsold. Over the years Galafrey has exported to many countries over 20+ years including China, Holland, Switzerland, Japan and Singapore. The height of exporting was when the Aussie dollars was at it’s lowest in the late 90’s.
In 1997 we moved cellar door back to Mt Barker. It was a big party after the Wineshow of WA and Monty House did the opening honours. Wide veradahs enhance the fabulous view and rammed earth bricks made from when the winery was dug into the side of the hill.
In 2003 we lost Ian to cancer. He started with a cough during vintage. I complained to him to go back to the doctors to which he replied “ I need a holiday not a doctor!” . However he was soon after diagnosed with lung cancer a secondary cancer and further tested showed he was living with kidney cancer but know one knew. An aggressive cancer he passed away 3 months later. We held the funeral service here on the property and thousands of people came to say Farwell. Just before he passed away he was awarded the WA Press Club George Mulgrave Award for his contribution to the WA Wine Industry. He received a standing ovation. Ray Jordan wrote ‘The bushy bread Tyrer was one of the great characters of the industry and sadly the industry can ill afford to lose it’s characters.”
Just before Ian died he sat me down and spoke about his succession plan. “ In 10 years time I will be 65 and want to retire. So I need to know am I building the business to sell? Or am I building the business so you can take over as manager?” Of course I couldn’t imagine my life without Galafrey so said I’d stay and run the Biz. So plans were made for dad to teach me all about the business. Unfortunately he passed away the following September, leaving behind a winery full of unfinished wine from vintage, a huge amount of unsold stock in tank, a storage shed full of wine and a vineyard about to burst. Rumours began to circulate. I remember going to the local post office and the staff saying that they had heard Evans and Tate had bought us out. I was a little shocked at first and then said with a big grin” absolutely! 10 million. Pass it on!” We all laughed. I figured in true ‘Tyrer’ humour if there were going to be rumours best they be good ones! Friends rallied around and helped us, and by the following year we were business as usual.
Ian left a big hole being the winemaker as well so staff was a huge issue for us. But we have to mention one in particular. Winemaker Vincent Lignac. A winemaker from Bordeaux, France who stayed with us for over 3 years and was a part of the family. Vincent taught us to truly appreciate our Dry Grown Vineyard, respect the terroir our grapes grow on and to go that extra level like the French do with everything they do! Pride in your work. Vincent returned home to his family’s chateau, but he keeps in contact and often sends photos of his wife and two beautiful daughters.
Nigel has been around since I was 21. Officially he started working for Galafrey in 2005. His background is agriculture management. Nigel often comments how we promote Galafrey as a two women business, Linda and I. And he is just the guy out the back! But he has done heaps for Galafrey and now manages the vineyard single handedly. He has been there for the hard times and the good times. He is our rock.
In 2007 we celebrated our wedding at Galafrey. A huge operation. It took a week to set up the barrel hall as a wedding venue for this special day. In 2010 Jack was born and in 2015 Ava followed. And so the next generation begins. It brings back so many memories of myself growing up here at Galafrey and being a part of a family business.
Our hardest vintage was 2005. A tail end of a cyclone came through and dumped 120mm of rain in 8 hours. We still had our reds on the vine. The harvester came in and got bogged and refused to pick anymore. And so began the mammoth task of handpicking. Every day 6am to 6pm followed by processing that night what we had picked . It was a race against the birds as they were starving as the rain destroyed their main food source, the blossom. Four days later it was finally done. Every vintage since, when the weather channel starts talking about cyclones I get a little twitchy.
In 2014 and 2016 our Reserve Riesling won gold medals. One at the International Riesling Challenge and the other at the Qantas Wine Show. Big victories for us with Riesling being one of our strongest wines. So continuing to be strong in this field is important for our future.
What does the future hold? To me, it’s the next 30 years of my working life. Continually building the business and striving to make great wines, being respected by my peers and winning more awards. In 2012 I won the ACCI Young Business Person of The Year Award . This year I was a finalist in the WA Rural Women’s Award and in the Australian Women In Wine Awards.
I love the family photo below. To me it means so much, how important family is. No doubt we will have more photos and memories to come as our family and business changes through the years. But for now looking forward to a year of celebrating our 40 years in the wine industry.
CEO & Winemaker