Why Visit Primo Estate?
- You love to support family businesses
- You’re in search of Italian variety wines in McLaren Vale
- You’re seeking unique wines both in terms of production and taste
- In addition to premium wine, you enjoy artisan food products i.e. olive oil
Primo Estate was one of the first wineries we visited when my boyfriend, Marco, and I arrived in McLaren Vale. Mostly because Italian Marco figured out the family who owns the winery is Italian and there were Italian varietal wines on offer. From this fateful first visit Primo Estate remained one of our favorite wineries in the region.
The Story of Primo Estate
Primo Grilli was the man who made this gorgeous estate and these beautiful wines possible. He left Le Marche, Italy in 1953 to start a new life with his family in Australia. Settling in Victoria, a township just north of Adelaide, Primo set to work cultivating produce to sell at local markets. As production grew, the Grilli family decided to plant their own vineyards and establish a winery in 1973.
In 1979, Primo’s son, Joe, graduated quite literally at the top of his class in winemaking at Roseworthy Agricultural College. So Primo decided to hand the keys to the family winery over to Joe and his other son, Peter. Joe was eager to implement all of the cutting edge winemaking techniques he learned during his studies at Roseworthy. Techniques that, while used in Europe, were yet to be introduced to the Australian wine scene. Think double pruning Cabernet Sauvignon to improve fruit quality and using botrytis on varieties like Riesling. Soon trials of the Amarone and Ripasso techniques followed.
Joe’s unique style of using traditional Italian winemaking techniques on varieties found in New World Australia helped quickly garner a positive reputation for the unique Primo Estate wines. In 1985, Joe and his wife Dina took over operations of Primo Estate. The couple also embrace their love for high quality olive oil. They bottled their own extra virgin olive oil with the release of the winery’s JOSEPH label in 1989. Primo Estate’s Cold Pressed and First Run Olive Oils have received as much praise and recognition as the wines over the years.
Eventually, Joe and Dina were able to accomplish another dream, planting their own vineyards in McLaren Vale and Clarendon. In 2006, Primo Estate opened the winery’s new headquarters in McLaren Vale with an absolutely stunning cellar door. The design elements of which reflect both the family’s Italian heritage and the beauty of the Fleuriue Peninsula. They even imported a wood fired oven from Umbria!
Though Primo Estate has been Joe’s life since graduating from Roseworthy, he still makes time for the homeland. He has been working vintages in Italy every year for 25 years. In 1991, Joe even worked in Umbria for two years after Hardy’s, another Australian winery, persuaded him to make wine for one of their newly purchased wineries. Joe still returns to Italy each year to visit local growers. He produces a red wine in Tuscany and a white wine in Veneto with said growers, which he brings back to sell at Primo Estate.
Tastings & Experiences
Primo Estate Bar Tasting – $5 per person. Waived with any purchase. Belly up to the bar as a friendly staff member guides you through a tasting of the Primo Estate range alongside the wines Joe makes in Italy. No bookings required. Maximum group number, 7 people.
The JOSEPH Experience Wine Tasting – $20 per person. Waived with the purchase of any JOSEPH product. Enjoy a seated tasting featuring a flight of JOSEPH wines accompanied by the latest release of JOSEPH Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Italian Grana Padano cheese, and locally baked bread. Bookings required. Maximum capacity of 12 people per booking.
Primo Estate also hosts a ton of fun events, including porchetta parties, spring lunches, wood fired pizza parties, and more! See Primo Estate’s website for the latest.
I didn’t take many tasting notes because we were having such a good time during our visit. Though I jotted down a few from my favorite wines. So definitely try to taste these if you go!
NV Primo Secco – This nonvintage sparkling wine is Primo Estate’s version of a Prosecco. Very very very fresh. Crisp with bright acidity. Love these bubbles. Perfect for apperitvo or any occasion really.
2018 Primo Estate Nero d’Avola – Medium bodied and spicy with notes of dark cherry, olive brine, and liquorice.
2017 Primo Estate ‘il Briccone’ Shiraz Sangiovese – 80% Shiraz. 20% Sangiovese. Very well balanced. Lightly oaked. A hint of spice yet super smooth. Notes of cherry with a savory finish.
NV JOSEPH ‘The Fronti’ Fortified – Frontignac wine fortified with brandy. A NV blend of vintages 1981-1987. Rich and luscious with notes of tobacco, coffee, and toffee.
For more on McLaren Vale, click here.