In late 2001 Petaluma, the company Ann and I 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, my friends and partners for 17 years in Petaluma, Champagne Bollinger made a pact with the Croser family to begin again.
Then along came the Cazes family from Chateau Lynch Bages in Pauillac, Bordeaux. On a trip to Australia in 2002, Jean-Michel and his son Jean-Charles met with me and quickly agreed to join the partnership.
My long held ambition to own and make wine from the more than 30-year old Koppamurra Vineyard just north of Coonawarra became the ambition of the partnership. Tapanappa was born and purchased Koppamurra Vineyard in late 2002. The vineyard has since been renamed the Whalebone Vineyard for reasons that are explained elsewhere on this site.
The partnership is founded in a strongly mutually held belief that some pieces of ground are much better than others for the production of fine wine. Of course this superiority is highly specific to varieties and wine style. The Whalebone Vineyard and Cabernet Sauvignon in particular have a unique synergy. I learnt of the wonderful quality of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Whalebone Vineyard 25 years ago when in 1980 I helped Geoff Weaver make the very first wine from this vineyard under his Ashbourne label. Tapanappa is also fortunate to have access to Chardonnay fruit from The Tiers Vineyard, planted by the Croser family in 1979, the first vineyard planted in the Adelaide Hills since the 19th century and a proven "distinguished site" for Chardonnay. This is the concept of "terroir", the uncopyable effect of the geology, soil, climate, latitude, longitude, altitude, aspect, surrounds and all other factors affecting Cabernet Sauvignon vines on the Whalebone Vineyard and Chardonnay vines on The Tiers Vineyard.
Whalebone and Tiers Vineyards are proven distinguished sites. In the middle of and at the highest point of the Fleurieu Peninsula, the Croser family have planted a revolutionary Pinot Noir vineyard 10 kilometres from any other vineyard. This is a distinguished site in the making.
The mission of the partnership is to maximise the quality of the wine from these three "distinguished site" vineyards, regardless of cost, that also implies producing only tiny quantities of wine.