Henry Pike settled in the small town of Oakbank in the Adelaide Hills and in 1886 established the family brewing business called H. Pike & Co. The name became well known throughout South Australia for its quality beer, soft drink and tonic ale, and the company used the English Pike fish on the label, which remains to this day - a symbol of Pikes' long heritage. The sale of H. Pike & Co. in 1972 did not end the family tradition. Henry Pike's great grandson Edgar was well established in the wine industry as a private vigneron and as a vineyard manager for a large proprietary wine company. His sons, Andrew and Neil, have both followed in their father's footsteps.
Since graduating from Roseworthy Agricultural College both have become proficient in their separate fields within the wine industry - Andrew in viticulture and management, and Neil in winemaking and marketing. Together they established Pikes in 1984 in the beautiful Clare Valley and have pride themselves on making premium table wines that reflect variety, vintage and regional characteristics.
The Pikes Winery and vineyards are situated in the historic and picturesque Polish Hill River sub region on the eastern side of the Clare Valley. The climate in this area is considerably cooler and the soils are also quite unique to the rest of the region. These attributes impart distinctive flavours and aromas to the wines from the Polish Hill River area. Varieties grown include Riesling - the flagship for which Pikes have become best known for. Others include Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Merlot and Tempranillo. Approximately 35,000 cases are produced and exported to about twelve countries around the globe.
The Clare is generally regarded as one of the safest viticultural districts in Australia in respect to the risk of pest and disease of grapevines. The low rainfall and low humidity which typifies this region during the growing season is not conducive to a high risk of fungal disease. Most fruit is lightly crushed and destemmed prior to pressing or fermentation. Pure yeast cultures added for most delicate whites produced as well as most reds. Wild yeast ferments are encouraged for some Shiraz and Sangiovese batches. Some batches of Sangiovese, Grenache and Mourvedre may receive post ferment maceration for up to 3 weeks. 100% wild yeast fermentation in the Chardonnay and Viognier with solids. MLF happens naturally and is desirable in all reds.
All red wines matured in oak 12-18 months prior to bottling. Pikes use only high quality 228L and 225L French oak barrels. Barrels are topped up once a month during most of the year. Chardonnay and Viognier may have their lees stirred occasionally during maturation and then are racked only once (off lees) prior to bottling, while the reds may have up to three rackings.
All whites are cold and heat stabilised prior to bottling. If fining is required PVP is the preferred agent. Membrane filtration is carried out at the bottling stage. Reds are fined only if necessary and minimum filtration if required. Pikes aim to produce wines that reflect their variety, region and vintage conditions. The winemakers are quite happy to watch over the wines during their formative stage and intervene only when necessary. The mission is always to produce the best wines possible from the fruit the estate vineyards provide from each vintage.
The Winery and Cellar Door has been renovated from an old stone shearing shed and the new administration and function area is constructed out of local stone giving it a similar feel to the other buildings on the property.
"Up in the Clare Valley Neil Pike produces two Rieslings - Traditionale, a blend from various sub-regions of the Valley, and The Merle, sourced entirely from the Pike family's estate in the Clare's Polish Hill River sub region. Traditionale is the classic Clare blend with its lovely citrus-like varietal flavour, fine structure and refreshing acidity - a wine to enjoy as it evolves over the next five or six years. The Merle shows the steel of its origins with very pure and intense varietal character teasingly held in check by bracing, minerally acidity. A superb aperitif style in its youth, it should evolve well for a decade or more" -Canberra Times