With a string of awards, the secret to its success lies in a nurtured vineyard, more than four decades of experience, and a commitment to the consumer. Mike Press started his career with the best, working alongside Max Schubert at Penfolds before moving on to Seppelt and Krondorf. Mike Press was chief winemaker at Mildara Bass when they won the Jimmy Watson Trophy. He planted his Kenton Valley vineyard in 1998 to focus on growing quality grapes to on-sell. Boasting 85 acres of scenic beauty, Kenton Valley Vineyards, was chosen because of its cool climate, its altitude of 500 metres above sea level, and its rainfall, which is similar to Bordeaux in France. Initially the focus was on semi-retirement. Mike wanted to get in touch with the land by growing the best grapes possible and then on-selling at the end of vintage.
The idea of establishing and nurturing the vineyard and producing quality fruit without the marketing and commercial pressure was very appealing. But plans to sell grapes to large winemakers were quashed when the grape glut hit. With grape prices plummeting, they were unable to sell the fruit without making a massive loss. No longer able to make a good return on the fruits of their labour, Mike and wife Judy instead turned their hand to producing their own wine and entering it into shows. Suddenly they had an ever-growing supply of cleanskins that needed to be sold, so they hit the streets of Adelaide! After two years of letterbox dropping they established a decent sized mailing list and sent out three newsletters a year.
The response rate was overwhelming. The personal approach worked wonders and their customers loved the fact that Mike would personally deliver every box of wine to the door. The wine was originally sold as clean skins and literally sold itself. In fact, it sold out every year, and the accolades soon followed.
In a move almost unheard of, the clean skin wine was named a runner up for the most eagerly sought after wine award in Australia, the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy for its 2005 Shiraz and Cabernet; and received three trophies and seven golds in 2006 at the Adelaide Hills Wine Show for its 2005 Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot.
It was then Mike and Judy decided to label the wine – a decision which proved fruitful, seeing it recognised by the most renowned wine writers in the country. Reviews by the likes of Tyson Stelzer and Campbell Mattinson, led to the wine continually selling out, and in 2008 its Shiraz was bestowed the highest rated wine under $20 at the Edinburgh Great Shiraz Challenge. In 2009 it was the only single vineyard in Australia to have three wines in James Halliday’s highly acclaimed top 100 wines with its 2008 Chardonnay, 2008 Cabernet and 2008 Shiraz. Further awards followed and then great success at the 2011 Adelaide Hills Wine Show when the 2010 Mike Press Shiraz was awarded the trophy not only for Best Shiraz, but also for Best Wine in Show.
In 2010 Mike Press Wines was listed in James Halliday’s top 10 wines for the year; and this year, was named a five star winery in the 2011 edition of James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion. Despite the success, Mike and Judy’s philosophy remains unchanged, Mike Press Wines continues to be a family affair. With a staunch belief that good quality wine comes from a good vineyard, and a hands on approach, with Mike Press personally involved in every stage of the winemaking - from working the vineyard to bottling– to continue to deliver quality wine at an affordable price, so it can be enjoyed by everyone, any time.