Tapanappa was created in 2002 by Brian and Ann Croser in partnership with Bollinger of Champagne and the Cazes family of Lynch Bages in Pauillac, “to utilise three of Australia’s most expressive and unique distinguished sites to create fine wines of distinction.” Today Tapanappa is wholly owned and run by the Croser family of the Piccadilly Valley in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills.
In late 2001, Petaluma – the wine company Ann and Brian founded in 1976 – was taken over by Lion Nathan. That event ended the 30-year Croser family ownership involvement in fine wine production, but only temporarily. Even as the ink was drying on the Petaluma purchase, friends and partners for 17 years in Petaluma, Champagne Bollinger made a pact with the Croser family to begin again. In 2002 the Cazes family from Château Lynch Bages in Pauillac, Bordeaux also joined the partnership, and with their help Brian and Ann were able to start again with their new wine venture, Tapanappa.
Derived from the local aboriginal language, Tapanappa roughly translates to “stick to the path”. This is exactly what Tapanappa has sought to do, by continuing Brian’s career-long mission of selecting and managing what he calls his ‘distinguished sites’. By matching the climate, soil and geology of the site to the right varieties, then fastidiously managing the vineyard to maximise quality, they are proud producers of unique Australian “terroir” driven wines.
Viticulture & Winemaking
Tapanappa’s three distinguished sites are;
- The Tiers Vineyard planted with Chardonnay in the Piccadilly Valley in 1979,
- The Whalebone Vineyard planted to the Cabernet varieties in Wrattonbully in 1974 and
- The Foggy Hill Vineyard planted with Pinot Noir on the Fleurieu Peninsula in 2003.
Since 2002, the Croser family have invested significantly in the refinement of the viticulture of these three distinguished sites. The old vines at the Tiers and Whalebone vineyards have been restructured and re-trellised. New vineyards have been planted with superior clones on rootstocks at very close spacing at both the Tiers and Whalebone vineyards.
The Croser family have also pioneered a new wine region at Parawa on the Fleurieu Peninsula by planting Dijon clones of Pinot Noir on rootstocks at the close spaced Foggy Hill Vineyard. These vineyard investments are consistent with Brian’s belief that Australia cannot compete with the best of the fine wines of Europe and North America without significant further investment in the improvement of vineyards aimed at improved grape and wine quality.
Tapanappa is unique in Australian viticulture, having new vineyards planted to the traditional European formula of close spacing (1.5 meters X 1.5 meters) with the vines only 0.5 meters above the soil surface and in all three regions.
In June 2014 the Croser family reached agreement with the Bollinger and the Cazes families that Tapanappa’s future as a fine wine company would be optimised when wholly owned by the Croser family. Changing markets and economic times, the increasing involvement in Tapanappa of Croser family members, and its reliance on Croser family vineyard assets made this all but inevitable.
The ownership of Tapanappa has changed but the mission remains the same,
To maximise the quality of the wines from these three distinguished site vineyards, regardless of cost, that also implies producing only the tiny amounts of wine available from each vineyard.