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South Australia
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Rieslingfreak is all about the expression of Riesling. We at Rieslingfreak immerse ourselves in Riesling, showing different expressions of Riesling through regions and styles. What I love about Riesling most is the diversity of the grape. At Rieslingfreak, we are deeply passionate about the variety and craft a range of Rieslings. Each of our Rieslings are numbered—the number representing both region and style. We source our Riesling from some of Australia’s top producing Riesling regions, including Clare Valley, Eden Valley, and Polish Hill River.

Germany is Riesling’s home and was one of the many reasons I fell in love with the variety. The German influence and traditional winemaking styles have had a significant impact on our Rieslingfreak style, particularly our Sekt (sparkling), fortified, dry, and sweet Rieslings. Each of our wines are handcrafted to produce regional and stylistic wines, that we believe signifies what Riesling is all about.

Rieslingfreak was established in 2009. John grew up on a family vineyard in the Clare Valley, South Australia, and is driven by the Riesling grape’s versatility. I noted my passion for Riesling in my university days, where I always had a bottle or two of Riesling to share and soon became known as the “Riesling Freak.”

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Our mission at Rieslingfreak is to handcraft Rieslings that we believe are representative of both region and style. Our growers are like family to us and play an interaural role in the Rieslingfreak Rieslings. We show Riesling's diversity through styles and are driven by what our forefathers have done in Germany

A sense of Place

The sense of place for Rieslingfreak is 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 120 km 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 5 km south from our Clare Vineyard.

Polish Hill River is a sub-region of Clare, situated between Sevenhill and Mintaro. It is one of Clare's iconic Riesling regions, with the soil profile containing grey-brown loam, over sandy limestone, and shale rock. The rock in the region delivering wines of a flinty and mineral style, Eden Valley is situated on the Barossa rangers' eastern side. The vineyards vary from sandy loam over shale rock to loam soil over medium clay. Rieslings from Eden Valley are often showing white blossom florals and riper citrus notes.

Meet the Team

John Hughes

As the name would suggest, I am a freak for all things Riesling… What I love most about my line of work is that for me, it's not a job, it's my passion. I don't see my occupation as work, as each day I am creating and working with what I love… Riesling! Growing up on the family vineyard in the beautiful Clare Valley (a wine region known for its superb Riesling), it was only natural that I had an appreciation for the Riesling variety from a young age. And as I grew up, so did my passion for Riesling. Once old enough to appreciate a quality Riesling, I found a new appreciation for many European Rieslings and kept a close eye on what a handful of German winemakers were doing. To this day, I still keep an eye on German winemaking techniques and enjoy referencing their style for inspiration so I can apply to the Rieslingfreak collection.

With love for the sweeter white wines, I've stocked my cellar with many Kabinett and Spatlese styles from his German counterparts. I can safely credit my appreciation for aged Riesling to my parents; hence you will always find some great aged Riesling in my 30-year-old cellar.While I love that each and every You can enjoy Rieslingfreak wine on its own, I love the role that food plays in transforming and completely revolutionizing the entire food and wine experience. On weekends, you'll always find me in the kitchen - and a glass of Riesling is never too far away!

Mark Thomas

It all started with a glass of Pewsey Vale Riesling in Mark's younger years, and from here, his love for Riesling has evolved and grown!While he never entertained the idea of winemaking as a career, food, and wine quickly became a big part of his life. Working in several top Adelaide restaurants in the late '70s and early '80s, Mark became hooked on Riesling's versatile variety, and it's no surprise that it soon became his go-to wine. Mark loved the hospitality lifestyle and the many different Rieslings he enjoyed from all over the world.

He went on to work for Hilton Hotels in Adelaide and then onto the Hilton in London, before joining Hyatt Hotels.Mark was fortunate enough to enjoy stints in London, Hong Kong, and Singapore with his family, but in 2011 they made the move to the Barossa, and in early 2012, he and I met at the Barossa Farmers Market in a chance encounter. With a shared passion for Riesling, it is fair to say that the two of us Riesling-freaks hit it off instantly, and as they say, the rest is history. Rieslingfreak Winemaking Philosophy, The philosophy of Rieslingfreak is to provide Riesling enthusiasts with the finest expressions of the variety, representative of different regions and styles. Most of our Rieslings are harvested by machine, in the cool of the night and arrive at the winery early morning for processing. Unlike most Riesling producers, we do not press our Rieslings. We use a 'spin and drain' method with the grapes to ensure the berries are treated very softly while maintaining the juice's purity. With Riesling winemaking, three key elements require the utmost detail and attention. These are fruit, acid, and sweetness. I see it as my job, as a Riesling winemaker, I believe my role is always to deliver a 'balanced' Riesling that harmoniously combines these three elements. As growing conditions vary from year to year, it is my job to adapt to the conditions and produce wines that highlight each vintage's best characteristics. It is for this reason that I am unable to use numbers to steer my decision making. I rely on my sense of taste, both in the vineyard and winery, to deliver a balanced Riesling that is true to style.

To create a great Riesling, we start in the vineyard with the fruit, looking for ripening and concentration of flavors. With the juice, we evaluate the acid and adjust if needed, to ensure we have great length and raciness. We ferment the juice using modern processing methods, including juice inoculation and the use of cultured yeast. There is much debate over 'wild' yeast and 'cultured' yeast. However, we choose to use cultured yeast for two reasons. The first being that we seek continuity of our wines from year to year, only displaying vintage differences. We also want to show you a true example of region and style. We believe the use of cultured yeast has a big role in this part of the winemaking process.As the wine ends fermentation, we ensure sufficient sweetness, and acid is achieved that compliments the fruit profile of the Riesling.