by Allister Ashmead
At Elderton, we love a good story. Neil and Lorraine Ashmead started this story nearly 40 years ago when they moved to the Barossa. They ambitiously started a fledgling winery against the odds, which over many decades of hard work and determination has evolved into one of one of the Barossa’s, and Australia’s, most successful small family wineries. The stories have continued to be told by Cameron and I, the second-generation brothers who are currently at the helm of the family operation.
We are ecstatic to announce that Brock Harrison commenced yesterday in the role of Winemaker, and will work alongside Julie Ashmead to ensure that delicious, varietal, regional wines of character will continue to be produced by Elderton.
Cameron Ashmead, Brock Harrison, Jules Ashmead and Allister Ashmead
This is how it all happened.
When Elderton announced plans to build a winery within the confines of the township of Nuriootpa, starting the build process in 2002, the Ashmead family underwent a whole raft of community consultations to ensure that our neighbours were happy.
One of our neighbours, who was more interested than most in the process, and who lived about 100 metres along from where Elderton planned to build the winery, was Dean Harrison. Dean had been living in his home for almost 25 years (at that point, and now well over 40), and he had raised his three children there along with his wife Sue.
His questioning was astute, and he challenged the Ashmead family on many things. Whilst happy with our answers, and not wanting to be a roadblock for progression, his last question was, “Are you going to give our kids a job?” Lorraine Ashmead responded, “Only if they are worthy!”
Little did we know that Dean and Sue’s son had started studying Oenology at Adelaide University that very same year. The following year, in 2003, a tall and well-presented young man walked into our old Cellar Door and asked for a weekend job to help pay his way through his winemaking degree. The team at Elderton were instantly taken with his enthusiasm, passion and knowledge. Brock worked as a member of our Cellar Door crew for two years.
When it came time for Brock to undertake his first vintage in 2005, which is mandatory as part of the winemaking degree, Cameron and Allister knew he would work out well in our cellar. He was enthusiastic throughout vintage and won our inaugural ‘Broken Shovel Award’, given to the hardest working cellar hand. He was the person that broke the shovel in eagerness to set a record time for digging out a nine tonne open fermenter full of Shiraz skins.
After finishing his degree, Brock was one of the lucky few who instantly obtained a graduate position at Pernod Ricard (owners of Jacob’s Creek among others). He worked there for 13.5 years, with experience in all aspects of winemaking. A true Barossa success story, Brock today starts a new chapter in his winemaking career. It also has to be said that we now agree totally with Dean Harrison – that Brock is a very worthy candidate indeed!
The team at Elderton are very excited to have Brock aboard and know that he will work in harmony with Julie Ashmead to create the next generation of stunning wines.