On 20 July 1969, as 650 million people worldwide watched Neil Armstrong take ‘one giant leap for mankind’, a momentous occasion of smaller scale was occurring in the Barossa Valley. Fifth generation Barossa grape growers, John and Erril Kurtz expanded their vineyard, purchasing an adjoining block on Stockwell Rd, Light Pass.
Celebrating 50 Years
In honour of the moon landing, Erril named it ‘Lunar Block’ and to this day it still proudly bears the name.
In 2019, as the world celebrates the 50 Anniversary of the moon landing, Kurtz Family Vineyards is set to launch the 2016 Lunar Block Shiraz – the twelfth vintage release of this exclusive, single vineyard Shiraz, made entirely from the original vines planted in 1969.
Day to day management of the vineyard has been passed down to John’s son, Steve Kurtz, a fierce custodian of his ancestral land, sustainable grape growing practices, and Barossa Valley winemaking traditions.
When it was clear that becoming an astronaut was no longer an option, I decided to take my own ‘one small step’ and pour my experience into a new role as Vigneron and Winemaker, establishing Kurtz Family Vineyards in 1997. In 1999, I produced the first Lunar Block Shiraz which was to become our flagship wine.
Steve further recounts the vineyard’s history, explaining that his father, John, was forced to find his own land if he wanted to continue the family’s tradition of grape growing. In 1961, together with his new wife, Erril, he made the decision to purchase a 16-hectare property at Light Pass. In 1969, on that pivotal day, John and Erril expanded their vineyard to include Lunar Block. Planted to Shiraz later that year, the Lunar Block vines now represent the oldest on the property.
“I can still remember the day the block was bought. It was a wild and wet day in the Barossa, and there I was in Grade 1 at Light Pass Redeemer School watching that incredible moment on a grainy black and white screen. My father, John, had to go to his parents’ house for the moon landing because we had no television!”
“In terms of the block itself, numerous people suggested to my parents that it wasn’t the best block to buy. As it had previously suffered flood damage, much of the top soil had been eroded, and therefore it wouldn’t be able to produce the tonnage required to make a living. Back in those days, grape quality wasn’t exactly front of mind. It was all about the more tonnes grown the better.”
Perfect Growing Conditions
However, the unusual mix of ironstone, limestone and orange-red clay in the Barossa’s gentle north-eastern hillside soils has proven perfect for growing fruit with the intensity and length typical of fine Light Pass Shiraz. Gully breezes provide a cooling effect during the summer nights, allowing flavours to fully develop without over ripening. Pest and disease pressure are low, with only minimal intervention required to grow exceptional quality grapes.
Low cropping and nominal irrigation further assist to create perfect vine balance, ensuring excellent colour, structure, and concentrated varietal character. All of which result in traditionally styled Barossa Shiraz – full and rich in aroma and flavour.
Kurtz Family Vineyards was awarded a 5-star Halliday rating in 2009 and consistently produces wines of fine quality at exceptional prices.
2016 Lunar Block Shiraz
In 2019, as the world celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing, Kurtz Family Vineyards has launched the 2016 Lunar Block Shiraz – the twelfth vintage release of this exclusive, single vineyard Shiraz, made entirely from the original vines planted in 1969 on the celebrated Lunar Block vineyard in the Barossa Valley.
Previous vintages of this wine quickly sold out, so purchase online today.