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Remembering Dr Bailey Carrodus – A Yarra Legend
February 21, 2015

Yarra Yering and the legacy of Dr Bailey Carrodus

James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion
by James Halliday
21 February, 2015

At the wake following the death of Yarra Yering’s founder Dr Bailey
Carrodus in September 2008, I overheard members of his family
agreeing that his passing meant they would have to henceforth rely
on the doubtful accuracy of Wikipedia for explanations of arcane
subjects. And indeed he was a modern renaissance man with an
awesome memory, and an exceptional ability to think outside the
square.

When he established Yarra Yering in 1969, he had a doctorate in
plant physiology, and a prior – incidental – degree in oenology
and viticulture from (then) Roseworthy Agricultural College,
where he lectured for a time shortly after graduating.

He set up the winery so that he could single-handedly make
the wine, designing square stainless steel fermenters encased
in wood, looking like tea chests. Each held 800 kgs of crushed
grapes, which was the capacity of his small basket press.

Despite his obvious qualifications, he was not the least interested
in the chemical analysis of his wines; a pH meter was purchased,
but never used. He hand-drew the labels adorned with laurel leaves,
paying homage to his long-term partner Laurel.

An abyss opened with his death. He had employed an assistant
winemaker, Paul Bridgeman, but there was insufficient time to
pass on all his knowledge (no two vintages are ever the same)
before he passed away. In June 2009 Yarra Yering was purchased
by investment banker Ed Peter (based in Singapore) who made
it clear there would be no changes to the philosophy of the business
– as had been the case with his prior acquisition of Kaesler.

I feel sure Carrodus would have approved of the way current
winemaker Sarah Crowe was appointed in mid-2013. She had
lived and worked in the Hunter Valley since 2001, nine of those
years at Brokenwood.

Peter made it clear the inheritance of Yarra Valley (he acquired it
in mid-2013) was to remain intact, his role strictly hands off.
When interim Yarra Valley winemaker Paul Bridgeman was
headhunted to move elsewhere, Bosward made an unusual decision
to advertise the position just to see who might apply.

Three applications looked particularly interesting, one that of Sarah
Crowe. She flew down on a Wednesday for an interview (only her
second visit to the Yarra Valley), and was offered the job the following
Monday. Why? Bosward himself had worked with Tyrrell’s, and knew
firsthand the capricious nature of the Hunter Valley weather. He
reasoned she would be able to cope with the 
uncertainty of the Yarra
Valley weather. Second, when asked which variety she 
would most like
to work with, her answer wasn’t the obvious Pinot Noir or 
Chardonnay,
but Shiraz.

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