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“I just love Isabel Estate. It’s an honest and passionate winery that is 100% focused on single estate wines and sustainable winemaking. They know their craft intimately and make the fruit truly shine. Their Sauvignon Blanc is always my first choice for long lunches with family and friends – every single time.”

~ Dave Short

Words by John Hughes from Rieslingfreak

I suppose my love for the Clare Valley started when I was a youngster. My parents purchased a small vineyard in Penwortham in the mid 80s. The vineyard was a 5-acre old Riesling vineyard, which was previously owned by Spencer George, who owned Skillogalee at the time, and was the grape used in the early Skillogalee Rieslings.

This is where my passion for Riesling and the Clare Valley all began. I remember walking the vineyard with Dad, and having our neighbour, Ken Morrision coming over, introducing himself, having a pair of snips in hand, and gave Dad his first lesson on pruning. During these days, we were still pruning with rods on the vine, so I received my lesson in rod tying, which was then the job of many young children in their family vineyard.

This was also my first experience with ‘community’, and the introduction to the people of Clare. A lot has happened since 1985, with my family vineyard now being situated in White Hutt, north of the Clare township, the development of Rieslingfreak, and my association with many of the top Clare producers.

If you ask me what are the best things about being a winemaker, I suppose for me, it would be part of being part of the Australian wine industry. In this story, I am going to share with you some wines, made from a few of my ‘mates’ in the Clare Valley, and stories associated with the labels.

A sense of Place

The sense of place for Rieslingfreak comes from working with some of the top and iconic Riesling regions and sub-regions in Australia. The Clare Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions and is situated 120kms north of Adelaide.

Our Clare Valley vineyard is situated in White Hutt, just north of the Clare township. The vineyards have heavy red clay soils over limestone. The heavier soils provide a fruit forward and generous Riesling.

The Polish Hill River Vineyard is 5kms south from our Clare Vineyard. Polish Hill River is a sub-region of Clare, situated between Sevenhill and Mintaro. It is one of the iconic Riesling regions in Clare, with the soil profile containing grey brown loam over sandy limestone and shale rock. The rock in the region delivers wines of a flinty and mineral style.




The Shorty's Pick from


2020 Rieslingfreak No.3 Clare Valley Riesling

I make this wine from our family vineyard, situated in White Hutt, Clare Valley. The No.3 has always been a fruit-forward and generous style. The aromatics inviting you to explore further and further into the glass. Aromas of tropical fruits, stone fruit and citrus claw you into the adventure of the 2020 No.3. Once tasted, there is an explosion of flavours. Orange, mandarin, lemon pith, and some green citrus notes highlighting the seamless acid, finishing fresh and clean.

2020 Naked Run Clare Valley The First Riesling

Steve Baraglia has been a good friend of mine now for many years and I see Steve as one of the finest Riesling winemakers of the Clare Valley. Steve shows his passion for Riesling from vineyard to bottle. The Naked Run Vineyard is situated in Sevenhill and every vine is tended to by Steve from pruning to picking. Steve spends a lot of time in his vineyard, right up until harvest, where his love moves into winemaking. The 2020 Naked Run The First Riesling would have to be one of the purest, delicate and refined Rieslings I have seen from Steve’s vineyard. A wine that will wow you now, and for many years to come.

2020 Jim Barry Lodge Hill Clare Valley Riesling

Tom and Sam Barry are good friends of mine and follow in their father's footsteps very well. The last few years have seen the Barry boys clean up at the Clare Wine Show with their amazing Rieslings. I would go as far as calling the Barry boys my 'Riesling Freak' brothers, as their passion and love for Riesling would be the similar devotion as mine. The 2020 Lodge Hill Riesling excited me as soon as it was poured into the glass. Very pale in colour with aromas of violets, sweet spice and citrus jumping out of the glass. Flavours of lemon, lime, and lively acidity leaves you salivating.

2020 Koerner Brothers Clare Valley Riesling

Made by Jono and Damon Koerner, the brothers have now been working together for a number of years, producing interesting and exciting wines from the Clare Valley. Having a drink with these boys, they are never short of a story, and you think the story has finished, and they have started with the next. The 2020 Brothers Riesling represents the guys well in the bottle. The Riesling is full of flavour, wild flowers, lemon pith, orange and herbal notes. The wine has complexity and texture which I see in all the Koerner wines.

2020 Shut the Gate Watervale Riesling

Shut the Gate is run by Rasa Fabian and Richard Woods. This couple has now been in the Valley for the last 13 years. They started at Crabtree Wines, prior to starting up the Shut the Gate, focusing on single vineyard wines. They guys hit the Clare Valley with a heap of interest and passion, and are always a delight to have a drink or two with. Their energies and love for Clare is exciting, and you know when you are out with them, they always put Clare first. The 2020 Watervale Riesling is a bolder style with tropical, melon and apple flavours, but also has a good citrus profile to drive the wine.

2020 Dead Man Walking Clare Valley Riesling

Greg and Alison Hobbs have always loved wine. They found their escape to the country opportunity in 1995, when they purchased a vineyard adjacent to my Stone Chimney Creek Road property high in the Barossa Ranges in Flaxman Valley. For the first few years, they sold their Grapes and Alison studied winemaking and viticulture by correspondence at Charles Sturt University. It was inevitable that by 1999 they were ready to start making their own wine. Greg has always been interested in wines produced using the appassimento method in which they freshly hand-harvested grape bunches are partially dried before fermentation. They have been experimenting with this technique for several years and I would venture that their expertise puts them solidly at the forefront. The 2018 opens up with aromas of vanillin, toasted bread and red fruits, then there's a subtle note of star anise, which we commonly find with Shiraz ripened at our high elevation. The palate is full and rich with solid tannins balanced against a youthful freshness. 

Taste some of Isabel's finest...

"The Barossa Shiraz wine style is very distinctive. There is always a richness and fruit sweetness that conveys the South Australian climate, bathed in sunshine. "


Steven Longishname




Review and Tasting Notes

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"Very smooth, easy to drink sipping whisky. Harmony sits right next to my 12 yr old scotches and is equally pleasurable to drink in front of a roaring fire! love it!".

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Appearance / Color
Iridescent amber.

Nose / Aroma / Smell
Floral Hibiscus, honey and wood.

Flavor / Taste / Palate
Custard, honey with strong notes autumn fruits.

Flavor / Taste / Palate
Custard, honey with strong notes autumn fruits.