Gant & Co. was fated to be in the Vine Street portfolio. Back in the early 2000s, we were importing Matt Gant’s first Barossa-based line called, appropriately, First Drop Wines, which was established in partnership with John Restas. The wines could be thought of as serious wines in unserious packaging, with fun, quirky labels. The pair eventually went separate ways, and First Drop left our warehouses for good, but the Gant connection remained.
To get to the Gant & Co. inception in 2019 and the subsequent US début in 2022, we need to go back before the days of First Drop to… 1998. In this year, Claudia’s father, Graham Lloyd, planted a vineyard on Twenty Four Road in Karridale, the southern-most sub region of Margaret River, on the south west tip of Western Australia. Just 15km north of the cooling influence of the Southern Ocean, this idyllic site produces aromatic, fine lined whites and vibrant, elegant reds, and has been supplying grapes to some of the region’s top producers ever since. Claudia has worked on the vineyard since its establishment, whilst pursuing a winemaking career that has seen her work around Australia, as well as in the US, France and Portugal. Her journey took her away from the vineyard at times, but Margaret River was always in her heart, and it was never long before she would return to tend the vines where she felt happiest. And it was on one stint away, whilst working in the Barossa, that Claudia met her husband, Matt Gant. A fellow winemaker on his own vinous journey, Matt’s escapades have also taken him far and wide (throughout Australia, New Zealand, the US, Spain, Italy and Portugal), and saw him establish the internationally acclaimed First Drop Wines in the Barossa in 2004.
After a number of years in South Australia, Claudia and Matt decided to move back to Western Australia a few years ago to raise their family (Scarlett and Gabe). Claudia returned to the vineyard and Matt continued to split his time between Margaret River and his winery in Nuriootpa (which he sold in 2021). Sadly, in 2016, Claudia’s father lost his fight with cancer, and Claudia took on full responsibility for the vineyard. With a deep connection to this place and to honour Graham’s memory, Claudia and Matt established Gant and Co in 2019, to not only showcase the fruit from this amazing site, but also champion the cool climate sub region of Karridale.
The vineyard has always been farmed holistically, with minimal sprays and soil health a primary focus, and timely intervention the key to success. In recent years, changes to some practices and the timing of them (eg cane pruning, leaf plucking) has led to further improvements in fruit quality and sustainability. The continued pursuit of best practice to improve vine health is at the heart of their quest to grow wines that reflect the purity and energy of this beautiful site. The resulting wines are produced with a light touch. A simple, sensitive approach (eg gentle handling, indigenous fermentation, ‘sur lie’ maturation) guided by timely intervention.
In many ways, the Gant & Co. wines represent the next chapter for Matt. These wines are the grown up cousins of First Drop; a little more serious, a little more worldly, a little more confident. Perhaps that’s what 20 years in the majestic Margaret River will do to you…