Pikes

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The Pike Family patriach, Henry Pike, emigrated from Dorset to South Australia in 1878 aboard the HMS Oakland. He settled in the small town of Oakbank in the Adelaide Hills and, in 1886, established a family business called Pikes Dorset Brewery. Subsequently, this business became known as H. Pike & Co. and the Pike name became known throughout South Australia for its quality beer, ales, soft drinks, cordials and its famous Tonic Ale. From the outset, Henry Pike used the striking English Pike fish on all of his beer labels, and the estate has continued that tradition on all of its current products – a symbol of Pikes' long heritage that now spans three centuries.

H. Pike & Co. was unfortunately sold in 1972, but this did not end the family tradition. By this time, Henry’s great grandson, Edgar Walter Pike, was well established in the wine industry as a private vigneron and vineyard manager for a large propriety wine company. Edgar’s sons, Andrew and Neil, both entered the wine industry after graduating from Roseworthy Agricultural College and have established themselves in their respective fields of expertise - Andrew in viticulture and management and Neil in winemaking and marketing. With the assistance of Edgar and his wife Merle, they established Pikes Wines in 1984 at Polish Hill River Estate in the Polish Hill River sub-region of the beautiful Clare Valley in South Australia. The first Pikes wines were released in the spring of 1985, and since then they been making and marketing a range of premium table wines which reflect the region, the vintage and the varieties grown.

Neil Pike grew up amongst his father’s vineyards in Padthaway and Langhorne Creek. After working a vintage at Wynns Coonawarra in 1977, Neil decided to study Wine Production and Marketing at Roseworthy College. After he graduated in 1980, he worked in the Clare Valley as a winemaker for various wineries for the next few years before starting Pikes with his brother Andrew in 1984. After 10 years working as full time winemaker for another winery (and for Pikes after hours and weekends), Neil decided to focus on Pikes full time in 1993.

Andrew Pike was introduced to the wine industry at an early age through his father’s own vineyard developments at Langhorne Creek and Padthaway. Andrew attended Roseworthy Agricultural College, graduating in 1976 with a Diploma in Agriculture, and immediately joined Wynns Coonawarra Estate. After almost 4 years at Coonawarra, Andrew left the south east and joined Penfolds Wines in October 1979 to establish a new vineyard project at Clare in the mid north of South Australia. The seeds for Pikes Wines were almost immediately sown, as Andrew quickly realised the potential of the Clare Valley. Andrew rapidly progressed through the viticultural ranks of Penfolds, ultimately his role became General Manger Vineyard Operations for the Southcorp Wine Group where he was responsible for over 6000 hectares of corporate vineyards and all of the grape supply for the group on a global basis. During this time there, he was also involved in the establishment of Pikes Wines in the Polish Hill River Valley sub region of Clare. In 1998, Andrew resigned his position at Southcorp to assist his brother Neil in the running of the Pikes family business. Today the estate has 75 hectares of vineyards planted from 1984-2003. The majority of the vines are planted on their own rootstock with a diverse range of clonally selected varieties used. A small amount of Riesling, Viognier and Tempranillo is planted on different rootstock. Clare is generally regarded as one of the safest high quality viticultural districts in Australia in respect to the risk of pest and disease of grapevines. The low rainfall and low humidity which typifies this region during the growing season is not conducive to a high risk of fungal disease. The vineyard and surrounding property are managed in a sustainable way such that inputs of chemicals are kept to a minimum and, wherever possible, the Pikes prefer to use organic or elemental fungicides and biological forms of weed control eg. straw mulch under vines. It is not always possible however, and they retain a pragmatic approach to pest and disease control which gives them the flexibility and security required in terms of insuring their annual production.

The Pikes have planted many hundreds of native and indigenous trees and shrubs during their tenure, and they still have many more to plant in the future. Water conservation and environmental sustainability is a priority component of their overall land management philosophy and they hope to ultimately leave the property in better shape than when they found it. They have founded, and are still actively involved with, a local Natural Resources Management Group (the Hill River NRM Group Inc.) which aspires to protect and enhance the natural ecological biodiversity of their small but significant part of the Clare Valley.
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