02/11/2004 - 21:00

Gusto Vino - Galafrey builds on founder’s legacy

02/11/2004 - 21:00

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The Western Australian wine industry last year lost one of its most prominent figures in Galafrey founder and winemaker Ian Tyrer.

Gusto Vino - Galafrey builds on founder’s legacy

The Western Australian wine industry last year lost one of its most prominent figures in Galafrey founder and winemaker Ian Tyrer.

Mr Tyrer, who established the Galafrey name and label in the late 1970s, was one of the Great Southern’s early winemakers, building and operating the winery for more than 25 years, and teaching and leading the family and its business. 

The Tyrer family is committed to focusing on continuing the high standard synonymous with Mr Tyrer and the Galafrey name, and has created the Ian Tyrer Fund in his memory.

The fund was set up for the Plantagenet Hospital to raise money for a much-needed ultrasound machine; something that wasn’t available during the course of Mr Tyrer’s treatment for his illness.

To date the fund has surpassed expectations, reaching nearly double the target of $25,000, thanks to the support and generosity of friends and colleagues.

Galafrey, located in the heart of the Great Southern’s rapidly growing wine district, is about 10 kilometres from the town of Mount Barker, and a few hours’ drive from the more congested wine hub of Margaret River.

Galafrey all-rounder and daughter of Mr Tyrer, Kim Tyrer, says the vineyard was one of the last of the second wave to be established in the area.

“We’ve been running now for about 27 years all up I think and have quite a few varieties growing, about eight in total,” she says.

“We crush about 150 tonnes of fruit, which is a reasonable amount for a smaller winery, and it does keep us pretty busy.”

“We do buy-in some fruit but our wines come predominantly from our own fruit and vines.”

The winery is now operated by Ms Tyrer and her mother, Linda, with the assistance of a few others and additional seasonal staff when needed, some of whom are students from the local agricultural college.

“We’ve been restructuring the business a bit in the last year and have been organising a lot of functions. We’ve also been involved in some festivals,” Ms Tyrer says.

“I’m really a bit of an all-rounder; I do some marketing, have helped out with bottling, and next month I’ll be heading to Singapore for a trade show.”

Galafrey’s current international customer base includes Japan, Canada, Holland and Belgium. Closer to home the label is distributed in New South Wales, Victoria and, of course, within WA.

“Our sem sav blanc is pretty popular in New South Wales and Victoria as well as here in WA,” Ms Tyrer says.

The winery, like a few of its neighbours in the Great Southern, operates a cellar door and Ms Tyrer says at this time of year preparation for summer trade and the influx of tourists to the region is in full swing.

“We’re getting into a busier period with Christmas coming up,” she says.

“At this time of year we do a lot of packaging and organising bottles for ready purchase as gifts, and distribution to retail outlets, and then prepare for tourists over summer and going into Easter. Easter is actually our busiest time of year here.

“The winter this year has been a little quieter than usual, I think partly due to fuel prices increasing where people are choosing to travel to Bali or somewhere like that instead of driving down here.

“These things do impact cellar door visitor numbers, but then again we’ve got the festival here at the moment so that’s certainly busy, and we’re in the process of bottling too.”

Looking ahead, Ms Tyrer says Galafrey’s focus will shift a little, but some elements of the business remain ingrained.

“Before, Galafrey was mostly known for Ian Tyrer’s wine, but we’d now like to have the Galafrey name foremost in people’s minds,” she says.

“We will still pride ourselves on good fruit and wine, and maintaining our quality will always be our first priority.”

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