Winemaker is just one of the titles bestowed upon Taras Ochota. Surfer. Punk. Basket Range resident and advocate. Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 alumna.
All are but snippits of a man whose passion and enigma have created one of the country’s leading wine brands and earned him the mantle as key influencer of the region, industry and beyond.
Taras’ approach to winemaking heroes minimal intervention; focusing on organic farming, early picking and natural acidity to showcase the strength of the produce and a progressive skillset in a somewhat traditional field.
His connection with wine started early with his family, Ukranian immigrants, settling in the Clare Valley and embracing the local penchant for winemaking. Even then his grandfather and father dabbled in natural wine, producing jars of delicious beverages made without sulfur or additives.
Via a dalliance with an Adelaide-based punk bank, Kranktus, (performing at many festivals like Big Day Out) and a stint in Sweden as “flying winemaker” crafting wines throughout Europe, Taras soon invested in his own brand of winemaking. This meant settling back home in the Adelaide Hills to make pinot-esque grenache when everyone else was making massive shiraz.
Ochota Barrels’ honour roll is as long and esteemed as the list of Taras’ rock’n’roll mates (not that he ever brags). James Halliday’s point system has bowed down to many of his wines over the years, while the inclusion on Wine & Spirit Magazine’s Top 100 wineries in the world for 2016 puts the label among fine company.
Yet it’s the love of good wine that drives Taras to produce one barrel after another, and the experience of sharing a swig or seven straight out of those barrels that brings him joy.