Mary Hamilton Embraces the Pampered Grape

Mary Hamilton, the boss of Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, Hugh Hamilton Wines, nervously laughs off how her father treats the winemaker’s vineyards of saperavi grapes like a pampered pedigree pet, with even sunscreen applied in the hotter weeks to protect their inky purple grapes.

Delicate, bold and ancient, these saperavi grapes — the new divas of the wine world — have quickly spread throughout Australia from their native home in the former Soviet republic of Georgia to dozens of winemakers who are growing the variety in commercial quantities.

Where once winemakers keen on saperavi could hold their meetings in a broom closet, now there are enough to launch a collective, and that is exactly what Hamilton is doing by creating the Australian Saperavi Association to take the message of Georgia’s most popular grape to local drinkers.

 “We are doing this because it is such an unknown variety and it has such an incredible backstory to tell,” Hamilton told The Weekend Australian.