For three generations, the Barry family has made world-class wines, cultivating vineyards in the heart of the Clare Valley, South Australia. One of Australia’s ‘First Families of Wine’, the Barrys’ commitment to quality has ensured that the ‘Clare’ (as she’s affectionately known by her many lovers) is renowned as a premier spot for wine-lovers the world over.
Jim, the first of the family to become a winemaker, graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1947 with a degree in oenology and began working at the Clarevale Co-Operative Winery.
In 1959, Jim and his wife, Nancy, purchased their first property and established Jim Barry Wines.
Two generations then followed in their footsteps: Jim’s son Peter and now grandchildren Tom, Sam, and Olivia, who are all involved in the family business. Winemaking is quite obviously in the Barry blood, and the current managing director, Peter Barry, has been working on the vineyards since he was six years old. He wouldn’t change a second of it.
“I started from about the age of six helping my father, topping barrels, watering vines, and just being involved,” Peter says. After graduating from high school in Clare, he spent the next two years as a cellar hand and as an apprentice under his father in the winery, followed by attending Roseworthy Agricultural College and completing a degree in oenology. “I enjoyed the mixture of science and the artistic side—it’s always a mixture of the two, and that’s fascinating to me.”
Peter explains that no-one was even asked, let alone pressured, to be a part of the family business, which is testimony to the dedication of Jim’s descendants, who have wholeheartedly chosen to become winemakers under the Barry name. Peter has worked in almost every area of the company, and in doing so discovered that he had a flair for managing. “When I came back from university in 1982, I spent a lot of time in the vineyards and in marketing, and not as much time in winemaking,” Peter explains. “So it was the commercial side of the business that I settled into, eventually becoming the CEO. In 1983, I became the general manager of the business, and then my father stepped down over a period of time and I just stepped into the role of managing director and CEO.”