In 2004, after decades carving out a reputation within Australia’s wine scene for his ingenuity, skill and passion for creating wines of genuine character, Kevin Mitchell – Clare Valley’s inaugural Winemaker of the Year – decided to step back from his executive role in the acclaimed Kilikanoon label, which he’d founded a number of years earlier.
His desire to get back to grass-roots and create boutique, limited release wines himself, led Kevin and his wife Kathleen Bourne to the village of Penwortham and, in particular, ‘Woodvale’, a beautiful, 7-acre holding he’d known and loved since he was a boy.
Drawing on his extensive background, including studies at Roseworthy, early apprenticeships in vineyards around the globe, and his own deep appreciation of how to harness the very best of the Clare Valley terroir, he and Kathleen set about planting the new Woodvale vineyards in 2006 with Pinot Gris and Riesling.
Today, guided by generations of local horticultural and viticultural knowledge on both his father’s and mother’s side, and assisted in particular by his father Mort Mitchell, Kevin’s philosophy is to keep things small and discrete, giving each wine the chance to perfectly depict the characteristics of the Skilly Valley and the conditions and microclimates of each vineyards.
Intervention is kept to a minimum, except to continually reinvest in the soils and the vines and to use a judicious hand in guiding and enhancing the journey from grape to glass.
This attention to detail, both in the vineyard and in the winery, was recognised with a debut five-star rating in its first Halliday Wine Companion review, with Woodvale also listed as one of the Top Ten New Wineries of 2018. Those early successes have since been backed up by outstanding vintages in a select range of varietals, including Riesling, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mataro, Semillon, Pinot Gris and Grenache.