The Ochota Barrels tale began on a surf trip, late in 2000 along the Mexican west coast in a Volkswagen campervan. A final destination after traveling some of the world’s best wine and surf regions, Taras and Amber Ochota conceived the idea to make super premium wines back home in South Australia. The concept was to concentrate on the zenith variety of McLaren Vale (Grenache) and the Barossa Valley (Shiraz), find an exceptional old vineyard site in each region and create plush, small batch, single vineyard wines. Over the years the regions and vineyards may have shifted on a few wines, but the focus has always remained the same, showing precision and compression in the wines.
As an Oenology graduate from Adelaide University, Taras developed his craft at wineries such as Two Hands and MSV in the Barossa Valley. He and Amber had worked together making wine for Oenoforos in Sweden crafting primarily Italian wines for the monopoly. California was also a regular vintage destination of Taras and Amber, where they made wines with producers such as Kunin, Bonnacorsi, Arcadian, Schrader, Outpost and the famous Hitching Post’s label, Hartley-Ostini, from the movie ‘Sideways’. The Ochotas took a less is more approach to winemaking and infused their love for music into the wines in both a literal and figurative sense. In fact, the majority of the wines are named after meaningful bands/songs (Fugazi, Slint, I am the Owl, Texture Like Sun, etc.). Figuratively Taras has said that “music and wine are so connected in so many ways, I reckon you can often see the styles of music people like in the wines they make. I like edgy music, rawer, sharper, and my wines tend to be all elbows and knees sticking out. Someone else might like folk music, and they make rustic, countryesque wines. And then you get mainstream big production wines that taste like music that’s been overdubbed and auto-tuned and had things taken out and put back in.”
Sadly, in October of 2020, Taras left us following a lengthy battle with an auto-immune disease. The news was devastating, and the wine world lost one of its true originals and visionaries. More importantly, a wife lost her husband, two children lost their father, and Vine Street lost a very special friend. It was also a low point for anyone who had come into contact with Taras directly or indirectly by simply enjoying a glass of his wines or better yet spending quality time as he always made you feel like the only person in the room. Despite the tragedy and the heartache that will always continue, Amber is continuing the family vision as she did every step of the way with Taras. They had a friend start to give assistance in the cellar in 2018, Louis Schofield of Hellbound Wine Bar in Adelaide. Louis along with Taras’ father Yari are working side-by-side with Amber to continue the legacy.
Rest in peace our dear friend. Meow.