When it comes to family endeavours, the name says it all for Trevor and Marilyn Harch, owners of Brockenchack Wines.
A combination of letters from their four grandchildren’s names, BROnte, MaCKENzie, CHArli and JaCK, adorn their labels, with the brand not only celebrating the couple’s inspiration, but also providing a glimpse into the future of their vision turned reality.
“This is Trevor’s passion, we came here because we were following a lifelong and shared dream,” Marilyn says of the reason they sold their home in Queensland and moved to the Barossa to pursue their winemaking venture.
Trevor knows a thing or two about business. His success in the building industry as well as a range of others, including an avocado and persimmon orchard on the Sunshine Coast which exports to Asia, has allowed him to invest in something that’s been pulling at his heartstrings for years.
“What brought me into this industry was that I love wine!“ he says with a broad smile.
“I started drinking wine a bit later in life I suppose, I was 30. I went to different places around Australia tasting, went to New Zealand, California and France trying wines.
“I’ve always loved Barossa wines and loved the region, and when an opportunity rose to secure my own piece of paradise and craft my own wines, I couldn’t help but chase it!”
The Barossa Valley was a favourite destination for the couple and Marilyn recalls many a conversation being had about moving to the Barossa one day, after falling in love with the region following numerous holidays there.
“He always said he needed to have his own vineyard and winery and while I’ve always tried to be supportive of his dreams, I didn’t think he’d actually go ahead and do it,” Marilyn says.
Trevor purchased Tanunda Cellars in 1999 and renovated it over three years, developing the historic building into the thriving business that stands today.
He also opened a second bottle shop in Maleny, Queensland and started a wholesale company which now employs over 70 staff.
But the dream of owning a Barossa vineyard didn’t eventuate until 2007 when a friend, who knew of Trevor’s aspirations, phoned to say he thought he had found the perfect property at Pub Road in the Eden Valley wine district.
Trevor was quick to act, he had a Barossa contact in winemaker, Shawn Kalleske and rang to see if he had heard of the site. While Shawn hadn’t, his friend, grapegrower Joel Mattschoss, had worked in the area and had given it “a big thumbs up”.
“Trevor came down to have a look at it on the day of the auction. He fell in love with the location and bought the property after just one look because Shawn said Joel said it was perfect!” laughs Marilyn.
Back then, the 66-acre property had two acres of Riesling and six of Shiraz. It now has 20 acres under vines including Pinot Gris, more Riesling and Shiraz; Cabernet and Pinot Noir.
When the neighbouring property went on the market in 2010 with its one acre of Riesling and seven acres of Shiraz, Trevor added more to Brockenchack’s holdings and planted Chardonnay and Grenache along with extra Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Shiraz.
Fourteen wines are now made from fruit grown in the cool climate, single vineyards with nearly every one of them named after family members, including their flagship Shiraz, William Frederick, after Trevor’s father.
“We have 41 acres under vine now. While we’ve grown considerably from the mere 37 dozen of wine in our inaugural vintage back in 2008, we are still a boutique vineyard and place the same importance and love into every bottle of Brockenchack Wines crafted,” Trevor says.
“We’ve ended up buying more land on Mount McKenzie Hill just here and some more from another neighbour in 2020 so now we’ve got 300 acres of land and about 100 head of Black Angus cattle.”
With every property came aged buildings and Marilyn knew her husband could never leave them as is.
“Having broken or somewhat run-down houses doesn’t sit right with his psyche, he just had to fix them up and repair them. Then, what do you do with these houses?
“So from the wine, somehow we’ve now got three B&B’s! I never realised it would come to this but it has and I never thought we would be working so hard, but we are!”
Both now 75 years of age, there is little sign of either of them slowing down as the founding generation of Brockenchack.
“I reckon I’ve got a good 20 years in me yet, I’m going for 103!” laughs Trevor.
And seeing grandchildren taking active roles in the business including eldest, Mackenzie, with his business degree and natural business nous, as well as his cousin, Jack who has an affinity for working on the land, adds further motivation.
“They are both 21, very street smart, exceptional workers and wise beyond their years,” adds Trevor.
“Over the next five years they’ll be trained up to take their place in the business, moving Brockenchack into the next generation.
“Mack is currently based in our office in Buderim, Queensland and with our other assets and businesses we have, he will become our Chief Financial Officer. He’s incredibly savvy and has hit the ground running in the short time he’s been working with us.
“Jack works with us here on the property. He has a natural passion for the operational side of things and certainly isn’t one to shy away from hard work. He manages our cattle herd and the fact that he can’t sit still certainly works to our advantage – it’s in his blood!
“We are very fortunate to have these young guns as a vital part of our business. Building up the next generation and giving them the opportunity to excel is what drives me and is something I’ve strived to implement throughout all my businesses.”
Another chapter in the Brockenchack story is about to begin and it’s the crowning glory in Trevor’s vision.
“We’re building a new winery here on-site, that will commence operation next year,” he says.
“It’s either the ’23 or ’24 vintage, or a bit of both, and we will then do all our own here with Jo Irvine as our winemaking consultant and Shawn Kalleske continuing to create our Pinot Noir.
“Jack is keen to continue his learning too and will be a key player in the success of our own winery.”
The excitement is palpable and it’s clear Trevor can’t wait.
“That’s the ultimate, having a winery, it’s more or less the icing on the cake!” he says.
“We are steering this ship in the right direction and in ten years’ time, the grandchildren will just add to it. We’ve got all this here and you can’t stop. You’ve got to keep going.”
Trevor is proud of his Lutheran heritage and with 23 years of Barossa business under his belt, he feels he’s found his passion in Brockenchack as he continues to grow the brand locally, interstate and internationally.
“I’m thrilled to have a great team around me who work hard, share my vision and also love a glass of wine or two,” Trevor smiles.
“Brockenchack Wines might be a young brand compared to our neighbours in the region, however we plan to be around for countless generations to come – this is just the beginning!”