Aphelion is Ancient Greek for "From the Sun"
Aphelion was founded by Lou & Rob in 2014 with a fistful of dollars and the sun in our eyes.
We knew we wanted to specialise in Grenache.
We knew we wanted to make aromatic, elegant Grenache.
We knew that the best Grenache fruit in the country is from Blewitt Springs.
So we set about woo-ing our grower. We managed to secure 1 tonne of pristine whole bunch, 80 year old bush vine Grenache from Blewitt Springs.
From this one tonne, we made four wines. The now historical (and legendary?):
- Aphelion Grenache Whole Berry
- Aphelion Grenache Whole Bunch
- Aphelion Pressings
- Aphelion Grenache.
We sat on the floor of our kitchen on newspapers with a crock pot of white wax and hand dipped every bottle, then hand applied the labels - made with Lou's artwork and a graphic designer friend from Sydney.
All this 3 months after moving to McLaren Vale from Sydney.
In 2015 and 2016 we floated between 1 and 3 tonnes of grapes.
Wine critic Mike Bennie was an early reviewer who loved our wines and as a result of his scores and reviews we sold out our wines including to some restaurants and wine bars, which was terribly exciting!
This gave us the confidence in 2017 to expand to our first commercial vintage of 19 tonnes, to evolve our labels and packaging, expand our range to include Shiraz, Mataro, GMS, Sagrantino, introduce a sub-range By Aphelion of experimental wines like Clairette's Clairette - a tribute to our daughter born in 2017.
Our Grenache focus and continuation of small parcel winemaking continued with those very first wines renamed:
- Aphelion Aromat
- Aphelion Verdant
- Aphelion Confluence.
To our great excitement in 2017 we were Top 50, then Top 12, and then Best New Act in the Young Gun of Wine Awards.
This gave us the confidence that we really were on the right track, and gave us attention from wine lovers, restaurants, wine bars, critics and importantly distributors. We now needed help to sell our increased production and signed on with distributors around Australia.
Rapture was born. Our best of vintage pinnacle wine in its' distinctive black and white label.
Packaging was updated, adding embossed caps, necks and labels, and wrap around labels.
We planned and launched our wine club - the Sun Lovers Club
offering members exclusive wines, discounts, and surprises in their wine shipments.
In 2018 we increased production again and were as high as the sun to win the whole Young Gun of Wine competition in Hobart, Tasmania!
We were starting to get great reviews from the few key critics we submit our wines to - Huon Hooke The Real Review,
Nick Stock at JamesSuckling.com
, Mike Bennie and Gary Walsh at TheWineFront.com
Our labels and packaging were updated again, with a line under APHELION, further clarifying of the colour personality for each wine, dropping the "The" ahead of each wine's name.
And the Rapture moved to it's show stopping bottle with guaranteed TCA free cork and beret of hand applied black wax. We'd come full circle and back to hand waxing again!
2019 we went national with our distribution (apart from Melbourne and WA) by partnering with red + white.
A January trade trip to Hong Kong, our key export market cemented relationships there and allowed enough time for some family holidaying.
At the McLaren Vale Wine Show we were thrilled to be named McLaren Vale's Best Small Producer.
2020 we opened our cellar door
- the front room of our heritage Willunga home - and had to close it a few months later with the onset of COVID. Covid rocked us hard.
With no restaurants or wine bars trading our sales suffered.
Export stalled to a trickle.
Our poor old website broke and refused to let anyone through checkout.
We took this time to look again at how we worked. How we could pivot, prepare, plan and set in place better ways to bring bottled sunshine to you.
- reopened in June and launched a unique "Back of the Ute" vineyard wine tasting experience.
- Updated our Sun Lovers Bottled Sunshine Subscription Wine Club to be flexible, more exclusive, and with more VIP treatment for our members.
- Launched our first Christmas packs.
- Made more effort with our blog and social media.
- Offered direct sales via order form or email to make up for our lack of online ordering during covid.
Most importantly, it was the support of wine loving folk like you that got us through. Being willing to order direct kept things going here at Aphelion HQ.
When the silver lining opportunity to step away from other work and make Aphelion our fill time pursuit arose - we took it.
All of these things combined to keep us afloat.
The sun is shining. The vines are growing. Vintage 2021 is set to be a brilliant one.
We hope to share some bottled sunshine with you soon, or again!