By David Sly
An ideal blend of skills has placed three sisters at the helm of Lou Miranda Estate in the Barossa. Since 2005, Lisa and Victoria Miranda have steered business at the winery that carries their father’s name, but the recent arrival of their sibling Angela as winemaker, bringing more than a decade of international experience, makes the family business complete after a careful 14-year progression.
Angela, who was previously Pernod Ricard’s UK packaging operations manager, US packaging operations manager and technical operations manager in the Barossa, came back to her family’s winery at Rowland Flat in mid-February – after vintage had already started – and acted fast to ensure the family’s progression as a boutique wine brand continues.
“We’d always intended for Angela to join us, but she was reluctant to leave her previous position which saw her travelling most of the year to emerging wineries in China, India and New Zealand,” says Victoria. “Once she came back to work in the Barossa, the decision to join us just seemed like a natural fit.”
It’s the latest step in a long journey for Lou Miranda’s family, which moved to the Barossa from Griffith in 1991 so that the former Miranda wine brand (which was then among Australia’s larger family-owned wine companies) could access more high-quality fruit.
The big old winery building, erected in 1919, became a weekend playground for the young Miranda girls while their father and mother worked, and later became their own workplace, after they turned 18, as they each took turns serving at the cellar door.
It provided them with a useful skill set when big change came after McGuigan Wines bought the Miranda label in 2003, splitting the broader Miranda family’s wine connections.
For a while, Lou’s family continued to sell Miranda wines from the cellar door, but in 2005, they transformed the Barossa property into a separate identity as Lou Miranda Estate – and Lou’s daughters stepped to the forefront of the business, with Lisa drawing on her sales background and Victoria bringing graphic design skills.
“Dad wasn’t ready to retire, and he had no problem at all with his girls taking the reins,” says Lisa. “We had always been involved in everything along the way. We never thought of ourselves as girls facing any obstacles. We were simply this family’s next generation, moving the business forward.”
It was daunting to start again – “We had zero customers, and now we are selling 25,000 cases per year” – but the daughters say they had Lou’s complete confidence to build the business on the back of his experience and their fresh ideas.
Their foundation was the winery at Rowland Flat – previously the Liebich family’s Rovalley winery, which had passed through several sets of hands, but still had the same infrastructure and – more importantly – large reserves of the fortified wines that Rovalley was famous for, stored in the original 7000-litre oak vats that the Liebichs had constructed in 1919.
Angela has revived her fortified winemaking skills, learned through such luminaries as David Morris (Morris of Rutherglen) and Philip Laffer (chief winemaker at Jacob’s Creek), because fortified wines still hold strong appeal for cellar door customers, and was the focus of fortified masterclasses held in the winery during the recent Barossa Vintage Festival.
Many more treasures have greeted Angela in the winery – including fruit from serious 90-plus-year-old shiraz vines (the best being reserved for the $150 Master Piero shiraz, named after Victoria’s first son), and recent plantings of pinot grigio and sagrantino grapes. “Lou was interested in adding Italian varieties but didn’t want to do the same as everyone else,” explains Lisa.
It’s a surprise for these wines to appear in the Barossa, especially a bright, crunchy pinot grigio built in the authentic Italian style around a firm acidic spine. Even more impressive is sagrantino made light and spicy with bright blueberry and liquorice flavours, rather than being heavy and overly tannic as many of these wines from Umbria in Italy are made.
Equally impressive is old vine grenache made in a lively style with juicy raspberry held in check by firm tannins; and a rich blend of old vine shiraz and mourvédre from the 110-year-old Angels vineyard at Lyndoch.
Many wine drinkers remain unaware of these changes, as the family’s popular Leone brand has primarily been noted for its value wines, and the elite Lou Miranda Estate wines are largely a mystery.
The challenge now is for the three sisters to promote these new wines through marketing initiatives that include in-home tasting parties, where a staff wine consultant presents the Lou Miranda Estate and Leone wine ranges for groups of up to eight guests in their homes.
“We have a lot to do,” says Angela, who adds that the full extent of the Miranda sisters’ work won’t be immediately evident, because the cruel 2019 vintage has produced scant volumes of fruit – including a paltry 300 litres (one barrel) of old vine shiraz. “Our best,” adds Angela with a grin, “is yet to come.”
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