Yarra Valley Pioneer Dies

This article first appeared in Spectator Magazine, 2008
Tyson Stelzer

Dr Bailey Carrodus, founder, owner and winemaker of the historic Yarra Yering winery in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, has passed away.

Dr Carrodus was one of the pioneers of the modern Yarra Valley wine industry, alongside Dr John Middleton (Mount Mary) and Guill de Pury (Yeringberg). His 1973 vintage was the first commercial wine produced in the Valley in more than fifty years.

The former botanist and CSIRO scientist specialised in plant physiology, a role which he maintained for a decade after he founded Yarra Yering. Dr Carrodus expanded the holdings of the estate over the ensuing years, but the core of his production remained based around his original 1969 plantings.

His wines quickly rose to greatness, headed by his Red Wine No1 Cabernet Sauvignon blend and Red Wine No2 Shiraz Viognier, both of which feature in Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine.

While Dr Carrodus produced a number of Yarra Valley white wines, his passion rested firmly with red. “Real wine is red and still” was one of his more famous sayings. Never one to make wine by the book, he lived by the philosophy “If it doesn’t work I’ll just tip it out.” He did just that with thousands of litres of Pinot Noir in one vintage and in another he recalled his entire red wine production, offering a full refund.

The estate remains in good hands, now managed by long-time colleague and friend of Carrodus, Tim Hampton and owned by two close friends, whose names have not been released. The three are committed to Yarra Yering and the winemaking team, headed by Dr Carrodus’ long-serving right-hand winemaker, Mark Haisma. By chance, the two recently employed De Bortoli winemaker Paul Bridgeman to replace Haisma, who heads to Europe next year. He will pass on his many years of experience with Dr Carrodus before he departs, and will remain a consultant to Yarra Yering, returning at least twice every year.

“The legacy of Dr Carrodus is strong and these vineyards will always be an expression of him,” Haisma told Melbourne’s Epicure Magazine.

Dr Carrodus died of a short illness at home on Friday September 19, surrounded by a small circle of family and close friends. He was buried the following week in the way that he had requested – without pomp or ceremony.