Mallee Estate Wines joins Premier’s China visit Jim Markeas of Mallee Estate wines has accepted Premier Weatherill’s invitation to join him and a number of other South Australian wine producers on a trade mission to China later this month. Like so many others in the region, Jim and his brother Arthur grew up on the family fruit block, the sons of Greek migrants Eleni and Peter who came to the Riverland in the late 60’s to begin a new life in the lucky country. Luck was part of it along with a good dose of hard work and ambition in the days before automation and mechanisation.
Quietly spoken but fiercely proud of what the family has achieved since the early days of drying racks, cutting sheds, furrow irrigation, hand pruning, hand picking and queuing with the day’s load of grapes at Renmano, Jim says “the core values of hard yakka, innovation, perseverance, education, family and the commitment to work smarter have shaped the business”. The Renmark Avenue enterprise, including its own cellar door, has grown with measured stride to the point where the Mallee Estate label is recognised throughout the region but best known in China and USA markets.
Peter and Eleni, like many in the mid 90’s, continued to develop their vineyards but Peter also had the foresight to know that one day grape prices would slide, hence his vision and desire to start a winery and value add to the grapes. The parents insisted the boys had a sound education. Arthur completed his trade studies to be a fitter and turner/toolmaker. Jim studied winemaking at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales via correspondence. Both returned to the family business and it made sense to them to have a go at processing their own fruit into wine. So they built their own winery! Jim became the hands on winemaker. Mallee Estate produced its first wines in 1998 and in 2016 crushed more than 600 tonnes!
Since those early days it’s been all about learning the wine business, developing a label and hitting the road to sell, sell, sell. Jim now travels regularly to China and the USA where he has established networks to promote Mallee Estate Wines.
Still a young man, Jim is determined to change a few things that disappoint him when he travels far from home. He wants to see more Riverland wineries representing themselves in foreign markets and proclaiming “Riverland” on their labels and he longs for the day when the “connoisseurs” who run with the mob, peering down their snouts and muttering, dare to indulge themselves in a blind tasting!
PS: Jim also represents region’s small winemakers on the Riverland Wine Industry Development Council and the Marketing and PR Delivery Group.