How it all began
Disillusioned with large corporate winemaking, Adam Marks had a dream of starting his own winemaking venture. On their honeymoon in 2000, Adam and his wife Lynne Jensen hatched a plan to make that dream a reality and Bress was born.
When asked this question, Adam answers ‘ Do you have a favourite animal?’ It appears most people don’t, but for Adam it has always been the chicken. While making wine in Burgundy and Beaujolais in 1996, Adam heard that the finest eating chickens in the world hailed from a nearby town called Bourg en Bresse. A visit to a producer ensued and Adam witnessed first-hand their traditional method of breeding chickens. Bress wines, ciders and produce are dedicated to the famous chickens of France and what they represent – artisan production using traditional, age-old methods.
Starting out as a negotiant
Adam, like the French, recognises that certain grape-growing regions are better suited to particular grape varieties than others so when Adam and Lynne started Bress in 2001 they followed the path of the traditional French negotiant, buying high quality parcels of fruit from notable grape growing regions such as Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley, Shiraz from Heathcote and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from Margaret River and using their friends’ wineries to make the wine.
Finding a home in Harcourt
In 2004 Adam and Lynne happened upon a rundown vineyard and orchard with untapped potential in Harcourt in Central Victoria, a region where Adam started his winemaking career and where Lynne’s ancestors settled. Inspired by the mixed farming enterprises of France and Italy that they had visited on their travels, they had a vision of creating a place to welcome visitors to experience the Bress lifestyle.
So they proceeded to transform the property into a home for Bress, a sustainable farm (producing wine, cider, olives, honey and a plethora of vegetables) and a place where visitors can taste the Bress wines and ciders, share a meal, learn something new and most of all relax and have fun.
The discovery of cider apple and perry pear trees in the orchard (then the largest of its type in Australia) motivated Adam to make cider inspired by the French ciders of Normandy, using the same techniques as those used in making Champagne. Over the years he has focused his winemaking on grape varieties sourced from the Bress property and other notable Victorian regions – Bendigo, Heathcote, Macedon and the Yarra Valley.