Anna Pooley - It's a Tasmanian Family Affair
Anna Pooley - It's a Tasmanian Family Affair
4 min

Was Anna Pooley destined to become one of Australian Wine’s most celebrated young winemakers?  She certainly had an early taste of a life in wine at an early age, as at the age of eight she experienced her first vintage at the Pooley family’s new vineyard.  The vineyard was planted in 1985 in the Coal River Valley, Southern Tasmania by her grandparents, Denis and Margaret Pooley.  Young Anna was enthralled by the excitement and activity of the vintage, but was a life in wine was all but assured…?

Pooley Wines: it’s a family affair

Her early excitement and enthusiasm for growing grapes and making wine has never left Anna.  She left Tasmania to study winemaking in South Australia and this led her to work for some of Australia’s, indeed the world’s, most revered wineries.  With the wine world at her feet Anna decided to return to the place where it all began, to the place in the Coal River Valley that first inspired her to become a winemaker. At Pooley Wines it’s truly a family affair, with her brother managing the vineyards and her husband with her on the winemaking team.  They are Tasmania’s first third generation wine family; helping to grow Tasmania into one of the world’s most exciting and renowned cool climate fine wine regions.

Tasmania is special because it’s surrounded by ocean… We have some really exciting and diverse areas for producing wine in Tasmania, where even slight differences in climate equate to a fabulous spectrum of wines. Anna Pooley

Pioneering tasmanian wine

Picture the scene.  The year is 1988 and a young vineyard planted an idyllic location in the Coal River Valley in Tasmania.  The vines are heavy with grapes ready to be picked.  Family and friends gather for the inaugural harvest.  A grandmother cooks up a huge, delicious feast to sate the appetites of the hard working volunteers.  The grapes are picked amidst smiling faces and laughter.  The fruit is taken to the embryonic winery to be crushed.  A beautiful day filled with a true sense of community that was to inspire a life in wine.  Who wouldn’t want to be part of this life? On this day the young Anna was no casual observer.  She shared in the excitement of the grape picking and the crushing.  She was fascinated by this process and got involved wherever she could.  So when the time came for her to decide what she wanted to do with her life it wasn’t a difficult choice.  The only difficult thing was leaving her family and heading interstate to study the prestigious winemaking course at the University of Adelaide.  But this was hardly an impediment and before long Anna was packing for the mainland.

Anna Pooley: a winemaking star is born

While you could argue for days on whether winemakers are born or made, there is no question that Anna took to winemaking like a duck to water.  Her exceptional talent meant she was in great demand when she finished her studies.  She started working at a legendary Australian wine name in a legendary Australian wine region, Wolf Blass in the Barossa Valley.  And it wasn’t long before her reputation grew, assisted by the experience she gained working vintages in the Wachau in Austria and in Tuscany.  Wolf Blass are part of the Treasury Wine Estates empire and before long Anna was making white and sparkling wines for a diverse range of wineries.  Penfolds, Rosemount and Yellowglen are just a few of the wineries in the Treasury’ stable that Anna worked with.  Her star was well and truly on the rise.

Award winning Anna

From an early stage in here career, Anna has collected awards and accolades for her work. She was named Australian Young Winemaker for the Year by the Wine Society in 2010. She was awarded Dux of the Australian Wine Research Institute’s Advanced Wine Assessment Course in 2008 and was named as one of Wine Business Magazine Top 50 Most Influential Wine People of 2009.  She was even entrusted by Treasury with relaunching one of the most iconic and important names in the history of Tasmanian wine, Heemskerk.  But by no means was Anna a lone star.  She achieved all of this success in a short space of time with the help and support of a vibrant Australian wine community.

There’s so many talented people, that’s the beauty of this community in Australia. We are all so closely connected. If you need help with something, it’s as simple as picking up the phone or trying someone’s wine and asking a question. Everyone’s free and open with knowledge and advice… We share a common passion and that’s a beautiful thing.
Anna Pooley

Back to her vintage roots

Maybe it was working with exceptional fruit from Tasmania, maybe it was the sense of community in the Barossa reminding Anna of the day that inspired it all back in 1988.  Whatever the reason, Anna returned home to Tasmania in time for the 2013 vintage.  For the first time Pooley Wines were made entirely by family hands; from grape to the glass. This was something that Denis and Margaret could only have dreamed of when they were planting the vineyard in 1985. The family ties that bind the Pooley’s also ensure a shared philosophy across all aspects of grape growing and winemaking. Anna’s brother Matt now looks after the vineyards.  Matt is a highly respected and knowledgeable viticulturist with a keen focus on sustainable management and practices.  He has been instrumental in the development of the Tasmanian Sustainable Winegrowing program that is inspiring many in the region to think about their long-term impact of grape growing and winemaking in Tasmania.  And the family connection doesn’t end there; with Anna making the wines with fellow winemaker and husband Justin.  Their shared philosophy produces wines that are winning awards and fans wherever Pooley Wines are being poured.

Keep it simple, really keep the winemaking to what’s absolutely required so that what you get in the vineyard is what you see in the glass.
Anna Pooley

The future for Pooley Wines, the future for Tasmania wines

So, what does the future hold for Anna Pooley?  Despite having years of experience making wines, her journey at Pooley Wines has been a relatively short one.  Each year the wines improve as Anna, Justin and Matt learn more about their vineyards, the terroir and the changing seasons.  Each harvest adds to the library of grape growing and winemaking knowledge, allowing them to better reflect their sites and the vintage with each passing year. The same could be said for the wider Tasmanian wine community. Tasmania is relatively young region when compared to the more established like the Barossa or the McLaren Vale, each year the wine community learns more about this place.  Learning more about the soil, the climate, the varieties and the idiosyncrasies while building the reputation of one of the world’s most exciting wine regions.  With talented winemakers like Anna Pooley leading the way the future is assured. Heck, we’d even go as far to say it looks brighter than a perfect Tasmanian sunrise.

Disclaimer

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