One of the Clare Valley’s premier wine brands, the family–owned Pikes Wines, is about to embark on a project that will turn the base of the 33–year–old wine and beer company into a Mid North destination for food, wine and tourism.
Famous for its quality Clare wines and striking fish logo, for more than 30 years Pikes Wines has been one of Clare Valley’s most renowned wineries. Started in 1984 by Andrew Pike and his brother Neil, the winery has evolved over the years to include a range of beers in 1996 (Pikes Beer Company), Pikes & Joyce (for their Adelaide Hills wines), while a brewery for their beer range opened in 2014. The next step: a Pikes visitors’ centre.
“We’re trying to build a destination in its own right and there’s lot of stu we can hang o it: winery tours, vineyard tours and picnic areas, all kinds of stuff where we can add value to the tourists that come [to Clare],” Andrew says.
Neil (left) and Andrew Pike (right) are determined to add more to the Clare Valley experience
The $1.57m centre will feature a 70-seat restaurant, a provedore outlet, a new cellar door and a private wine room at Pikes’ Polish Hill River Estate.
“It’s a major exercise for us,” Andrew continues, “but the whole landscape in the Clare Valley, in terms of food and wine and tourism, is on the increase. A lot has happened in the last five to 10 years. We really think there’s an opportunity for us to take the next step and create that destination in its own right at Pikes, that’s very much our focus for the next 18 months or two years to get that up and running.
“Visitation to the winery has increased at least 20 per cent since we opened the doors to the brewery,” Andrew says. “That just tells us people are looking for something extra, so if we can add this next offering, and tie it all in, so it’s a really nice experience for people to come, they will come. Build it and they will come. That’s our hope. If we do it properly, as we plan to, it will add that next dimension in terms of visitation. It will be for the region as much as it is for us.”
Andrew’s son Jamie recently returned from Sydney to join the family business in the sales and marketing department. Pikes will launch a new site soon, and there will be a slight refresh of their labels.
“Being a family company that has had a strong brand for the last 33 years, I don’t think we need to go about changing anything major,” Jamie says. “There’s a refresh happening with the labels, particularly on the red wines, which Neil, who’s kind of put all that together, will be rolling out with the new vintage red.”
Pikes’ classic beer and wine logos are set for a refresh
Is there an overriding philosophy behind all the Pikes drinks and developments?
“It’s pretty simple, we’ve got to make 20 per cent or we don’t do it,” Andrew laughs. “Essentially, what it is for us, we’re 100 per cent family owned and we want to stay that way. We’ve got a second generation coming through who really want to get involved. We’ve got Alister, my second son, who’s involved at the brewery-level and Jamie is involved with marketing and sales. That’s the future. We’re trying to build something we can pass on.
“We’ve been fortunate over the 30-odd years we’ve been going that it’s provided us with opportunities to build a business essentially from nothing. When we bought the paddock in Clare in 1984 there was nothing left, all our life savings went into it – from my brothers and myself – and my sister put a few bob in, and mum and dad helped us with a security on a loan. Very humble beginnings, but it’s been very satisfying over the journey.”
Jamie says it was always the plan for him to come back to the family business.
“I suppose it was always the understanding that if you want to come back you have got to go and earn your stripes and bring something back to the table. I spent eight years in New South Wales. I worked for a distributor, Fine Wine Partners for six years, and a New Zealand wine company for a couple of y ears as well.
“It was time to come home. My wife and I, we just had a little girl, she’s about six months old now, and we wanted to be around our family and Adelaide has changed a huge amount in the time we were away. I think 10 years ago, we were pretty keen to get out of Adelaide. Over the years, returning a couple of times a year, we saw it slowly evolve and change. It’s now a really cool place to live and raise a family.”