By Paula Kosovich and John Kosovich Wines

A Brief History

In 1911 Ivan Kosovich, along with two of his brothers, arrived in Western Australia from the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, the former Yugoslavia looking for a better life. In 1922, after more than 10 years of timber cutting and working in the mines of Kalgoorlie, the three brothers purchased a piece of land in the Swan Valley. Here they planted the first vines, several of which are still growing on the property today. Both of Ivan’s brothers, unfortunately, passed away in the following years leaving no family.

Wines initially produced at the property were sweet white (sherry) and red (claret) which was most commonly consumed in the post-war era. Along with wine grapes, Ivan also grew table grapes to eat fresh and also dry along with other fruits and vegetables. The wine and grapes were traded with fishermen from Fremantle and market gardeners from Wanneroo. 

In the hot conditions of the Swan Valley, it was imperative to find a way to keep the wine and other goods fresh. It was decided in the mid-1920s that a below-ground cellar would be built. Along with his brothers and other neighbours, the ground was dug to around three metres using manual labour and borrowed draught horses. A large seven-metre tall tree was felled in the hills to the east of the property for the main roof support. A handmade broad-axe was used to shape the beam and this axe is proudly displayed at the winery today.  This underground cellar serves as our tasting and sales area today. This is the only underground tasting room cellar at a winery in Western Australia.

Many years of hard work began to take its toll on Ivan and in 1952 it was decided, as the eldest son, John aged 15, would leave school and become the winemaker to help support the family. As the years progressed John could see that the Swan Valley climate was better suited to other varieties and the tastes of the Australian wine drinker were also changing. During the 1960’s he made the bold move to change the vineyard and begin producing dry white wine.  Riesling was one of the first new varieties planted, with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdelho following.

In the late 1980’s John was keen to start producing cooler climate wines and a vineyard just outside the South West town of Manjimup in the Pemberton wine region was purchased.

Also around the same time, second son Arch left a position in banking to join his father full-time at the winery. He worked alongside him learning the art of winemaking as a cellar hand and assistant winemaker.

In 1995 John was awarded the Order of Australia medal for his contribution to the wine industry.

On the eve of vintage in 1998, an accident left John with a broken hip and months of hospital rehabilitation.  It was therefore left to Arch to complete his first solo vintage with only phone call assistance from John. From this point on, Arch gradually took on more of the winemaking duties. Soon the Senior Winemaker role moved from father to son with Arch becoming the third generation senior winemaker. 

In 2004 John was awarded the Jack Mann Medal for services to the Western Australian wine industry and in the same year, the winery was awarded the Best West Australian Small Producer at the Perth Royal Wine Show.

Over the years Arch has created his own place in the family business putting his own mark on the wines and continuing the tradition of award-winning wines. He has become adept at creating beautiful Chenin Blanc’s receiving awards for several years in a row. In 2020 the 2015 Bottle Aged Chenin Blanc was awarded the Best Chenin Blanc in Australia at the inaugural Australian Chenin Blanc Challenge. This wine also was awarded Best Chenin Blanc and Best Swan Valley Table Wine of Show at the 2020 Swan Valley Wine Show. The 2022 Halliday Wine Companion awarded 97 points for the wine.

In 2020, after more than 30 years in the IT industry, eldest son Ray has joined the family business as Viticulturist and Business Manager. Over the years he was never far from the vineyard, helping out on weekends and holiday breaks wherever needed. In 2002 Ray completed his Bachelor of Oneology through Charles Sturt University. He now works alongside his father managing the vineyards both in the Swan Valley and Pemberton.

Ray and Arch

What’s happening

December finds us in maintenance mode, ensuring the vineyards are at their best to produce the best fruit. Everything is looking good at the moment and progressing as expected.

Late November saw the bottling of our 2020 Shiraz and Pinot Noir from Pemberton.  These wines will be left to settle in the bottle before being released. Several Swan Valley wines were also bottled including the 2021 Unwooded Chardonnay, Rose and Chenin Blanc. These wines will most likely be released in late 2022.

Harvest 2022 will commence in the Swan Valley in late January if everything continues going to plan. Picking will carry on through to mid-March after which we will transition to picking in Pemberton until mid-April.

All our wines are made from estate-grown grapes and are hand-picked enabling us to pick only the best quality fruit.

Our most recent releases have been the 2015 Bottle Aged Chenin which sells for $48 at the cellar door and the 2020 Unwooded Chardonnay selling for $24.

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