Home' Smart Farmer : October 2014 Contents SmartFarmer • October 2014
Yelland and Papps finds
reward in artisan wine
By JACINTA ROSE
MICHAEL and Susan Papps
started making wine in 2005
as a way to share their pas-
sion with loved ones.
"We started making 3 tonnes of
shiraz in the first year, and when
we started it was just going to be for
friends and family," Susan said.
"I'd had to quit my job working with
another winery through illness, and I
thought it might just keep me busy,
but within three months of picking
that fruit in February 2005, we just
got the bug.
"We knew we wanted to start our
own label and make our own wine and
then eventually work for ourselves and
not work for other wineries."
Yelland -- Susan's maiden name --
was included in the winery name to
represent the partnership between the
couple, who have relished the freedom
of running their own business.
"We get to make the wines that we
like to make, we get to put them out
there and market them how we want
to market them," Susan said.
"Also in this industry, when you
have your own winery you get to
do everything. We found when you
work for a big winery you are kind of
pigeon-holed -- you sell or you work
in the back of the winery, not both."
The duo have a 1-hectare vineyard
on their property, between Nuriootpa
and Tanunda, but source most of their
fruit from local growers.
"When you're starting by yourself,
unless you have investors or you've
been handed down a vineyard, you've
really got to choose to focus on either
growing fruit or winemaking," she
"We chose to build a winery and
make our own wine."
Yelland and Papps has added more
growers to its suppliers list as its
production levels increased.
"When we first started, the majority
of our growers were in the Greenock
region, and now we're taking fruit
from Light Pass and a little bit from
Marananga," Susan said.
"We love organic methods, but we
let our vineyard operators do that
when they want to."
Fruit quality from the 2014 vintage
was high, but yields were low.
"The fruit that was coming off was
looking amazing, but there just wasn't
enough of it," Susan said.
"One of our parcels came in
two-thirds lighter than we would've
estimated, so 2014 was a very tough
vintage for growers here in the
Susan and Michael crushed 60
tonnes of fruit this year, aiming to
expand to 70t-80t next year.
Eventually, they want to crush 100t,
but they know winery expansion is an
Michael works full-time in the
winery and Susan helps out during
While the couple is keen to remain
the only workers at their winery, they
have hired part-time employees to
assist with marketing and accounts.
The cellar door is an important part
of the business, providing an authentic
experience for visitors.
"Some of our whites sit in tanks,
but everything else is in oak barrels.
People love driving into the cellar door
during vintage and seeing us out the
front crushing the fruit," Susan said.
"We also sell my dad's lentils
and chickpeas from his property at
the cellar door. People do get a bit
stunned when they walk in our tasting
room and see lentils, but they sell like
The Yelland and Papps cellar door, between Nuriootpa and Tanunda, offers
visitors an authentic taste of how wine is made.
Duo forge new path in industry
MICHAEL and Susan Papps (pictured)
entered the wine industry in a very
different way to many of their fellow
Susan grew up on a farm at Kadina
-- a long way from SA's famous wine
regions. "I got my first opportunity
working at a bottleshop in Kadina, and
that's where I developed the love of
wine," she said.
"I then packed up all my things
and moved to Adelaide to do a wine
course, but the course was cancelled,
so I worked at a hotel in Adelaide and
then decided to travel.
"I went and lived in New York for a
had to study, so I did a wine course at
Windows on the World Wine School."
Susan said the course was invaluable
for developing her knowledge of wine.
Susan met Michael -- whose passion
for wine also took time to develop --
after returning home and working in
"He didn't drink wine, and he actu-
ally worked for a bottling company in
the Barossa," Susan said.
"He's also worked at St Hallett in
the lab, working with some amazing
winemakers, and then he moved to
Rocland Estate, where he was an
assistant-winemaker. We've both
been able to work with amazing
winemakers who have let us ask a lot
of questions, and especially at Rocland
Estate, since they are a contract facil-
ity, he saw lots of winemaking styles
and learnt what he preferred and what
he didn't like.
"It's funny that he's now a
winemaker and he never used to drink
The couple initially had reservations
about their place in the industry, given
their unique backgrounds.
"In our first year we didn't know
where we fitted, but then we just real-
ised that you don't have to fit -- you
just do what you do and make good
wine," Susan said.
The property includes a 1ha vineyard which
keeps Susan and Michael Papps busy.
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