Our Wines

“At Kay Brothers we make proudly McLaren Vale wines that truly express their terroir.”

Duncan Kennedy, Kay Brothers Winemaker

Viticulture

Frederick and Herbert Kay took on the Amery vineyard over 125 years ago, but the virtues of this unique piece of land began long before those early days. McLaren Vale is known for its complex geology, and the Amery vineyard is no exception, with ancient soils comprising five different geological types, ranging from 10,000 to 550 million years old. 

This complex soil structure means the vines struggle to thrive and survive. This struggle drives the development of powerful, concentrated flavours and fine, textured tannins, the hallmarks of Kay Brothers wines. 

Our focus in the vineyard is sustainability, our team is always working to improve the bio-diversity and soil health across the property. This allows us to run the vineyard more organically, whilst making the vines more resilient to disease and drought conditions. We know that a healthy vineyard produces better fruit, which makes better wine.

The Block 6 vineyard, at 125 years of age, presents its own unique challenges as a vineyard, but one that more than makes up for the effort. It is more fragile, it requires more care, but it also more resilient, with deep root systems, and the ability to produce fruit with impressive density of flavour and unmatched complexity.

Winemaking

The aim in the winery is to do whatever we can to preserve the amazing flavours and characters nature provides in the vineyard. 

To achieve this, we strive to be as gentle as possible from harvest all the way through the original open fermenters, hand plunging and heritage 1928 basket press. 

Small batches are handled individually, maximising the unique characters that stem from each vine. Wines are then transferred to large oak formats to optimise oak integration, creating balanced oak influence.

These barrels are then stored in the cool, stone walled cellars, in a stable climate, allowing the wines to mature gracefully. 

The resulting wines exhibit the balance we so carefully work towards, approachable wines with great aging ability, soft tannins, fruit quality and intensity of flavour.  

Our methods may be old fashioned, but at Kay Brothers we are proud to make McLaren Vale wines that truly express their terroir.

Basket Press

At Kay Brothers we utilise a traditional method of pressing our wines. Our Celestin Coq & Cie Basket Press was installed and ready for use in the 1928 vintage. 

Utilising a hydraulic ram, the basket and trolley are raised up so grape pulp and skins are gently pressed against the static top plate. This pressure forces the juice to run out through the wooden slats in the basket.

The wine collects in the pan on the trolley and is run through a sieve before being pumped off to tank to settle. 

The resulting pressed cake of grape skins is removed, broken up and may be pressed a further two times depending on the season and quality of the grape material. The winemaker’s skill comes to the fore in the treatment and handling of the wine that result from each pressing stage.

The basket press reflects our traditional winemaking philosophy. The grapes are pressed gently, resulting in softer tannins and cleaner juice. Whilst this process is labour intensive and time consuming, we are confident it translates to superior quality.

Our Winemaker

Our winemaker Duncan began in the vineyards of Padthaway, before deciding to study viticulture at university. Working in Padthaway and Langhorne Creek as a viticulturist gave Duncan a thorough appreciation of holistic vineyard management.

After several years working in the vineyard, Duncan decided to explore international wine regions, completing vintages in Okanagan Valley in Canada, Bordeaux in France and Russian River Valley in the US, helping to convince him to transfer his skills to winemaking.

When he returned to Australia he completed his post graduate studies in oenology before finding work in McLaren Vale as a cellar hand at Pirramimma, then as Assistant Winemaker at Shottesbrooke Vineyards.

In 2015, Duncan joined Kay Brothers as Chief Winemaker & Viticulturist, and it wasn’t long before his influence was felt, being crowned Bushing King in 2017, as the maker of the “Best Wine of Show” for the 2016 Kay Brothers Griffon’s Key Grenache and also the “Best Single Vineyard Viticulturist”.

Duncan is also supported by a small dedicated team of cellar hands and vineyard workers, many of whom have been at Kay Brothers for years. A great team that work hard to make Kay Brothers the wines they are today.