Getting to know… Judy Kelly of Chateau Coco

Published by Mark Pollard - 29th Aug 2016

A few weeks ago, on our inaugural ‘Naked Crew on Tour’ in South Australia, I had the pleasure of breaking bread with new winemaking team Judy & Glen Kelly of the ground-breaking Chateau Coco. While sipping their delicious exclusive-to-Naked Fiano 2016, grazing on a sensational antipasto and soaking in the beautiful rolling Adelaide Hills view, I spent ‘Two Minutes with Judy’…

Stuart: You and Glen were both involved in the corporate world for years and then decided on a new adventure. Is there anything you miss about ‘that’ life? What does becoming a ‘winegrower’ mean to you on a daily-level basis?
Judy: We don’t miss anything about the life we had, glad we had it though as it makes us appreciate our “now” life far more. The experience we both gained has been an advantage in most things that we do, after all, it is running a business (just not in high heels and suits!)
Being a winegrower feeds our long-held passion and makes us happy and the glass is always half full around here!

S: You grow grapes in both the Clare and Adelaide Hills but your home and cellar door is beautifully perched on top of one of the peaks of the Adelaide Hills region. What’s the best thing about this location?
J: Proximity to the city from our home and cellar door is really important, we are only 35 minutes down the freeway to the city, so we have the best of both worlds. Being on top of the hill gives us 270 deg captivating views that wow our cellar door customers, its a beautiful place to live and besides Coco loves it too and that’s important!!

S: Let’s talk varieties. Not only did you turn your back on the city life you openly moved forward and embraced the ‘newer’ varieties. Why?
J: We both love the new emerging varieties, they are more elegant, spicy with interesting complexity and very food friendly which is important, we love our food and wine. We took a gamble a few years back and were basically chastised for it by some local industry peers who thought we were totally mad, but we persevered and battled on a bit bloody mindedly I suppose but convinced we were right.
Another reason is that we are generally experiencing warmer conditions and shorter vintages,  the new varieties cope much better with warmer conditions.
Now several years later we are starting to reap the benefits and its a delight to see the reaction and the acceptance of these varieties in the market place. Consumers are seeking them out as we once used to. Those industry peers are now knocking on our door to buy fruit now – the wheel is turning!

S: Your vineyard has some fantastic sculptures and works of art nestled in and around the vines which you clearly love to share with visitors to your cellar door. What’s the connection to your wine?
J: Art and wine go together.
There is a great saying :“Art is for wine lovers. Art should be at the heart of the table, with wine. Wine and art are neither elite or mysterious. They are both there for our enjoyment and the happy moments in our lives. Anon.”
We have a love of art and sculpture and also colour hence our bright labels, it makes us happy! We have a mission to have one of the prettiest and most interesting cellar doors around, it’s always a work in progress (poor Glen – I have lots of ideas and he has to do the doing!). Art feeds the soul as does great food and wine, add family and pets and we are all deliriously happy!
I always try and surround ourselves with things we love, they can be simple and inexpensive but they make us happy. Never keep anything for “best”, every day is special and we impart that to our customers and surround them with art and sculptures that they love to photograph and enjoy.

S: Australia being a relatively new-world wine drinking country do you see the growing affinity with the newer varietal wines as being more of an evolution or revolution with the hearts and minds of Australian wine lovers?
J: I think it’s a touch of both. We believe that consumers were bored with the same  traditional varieties and were looking for something new. Younger wine drinkers do not want to generally drink what their parents drank and are seeking new experiences. The food “revolution” and education that has occurred since the advent of MasterChef etc has also played a major part and helped these newer wine varieties take centre stage and be well matched to incredible food.

S: Your exclusive-to-Naked Wines Chateau Coco Fiano has recently launched. What are the attributes of the wine our Angels should look forward to
J: Wow factor, excitement, great florals and fruit flavour with a subtle spiciness that does not overpower. Good palate weight and those divine hints of honey and nuttiness.
It’s an exciting variety, it’s not acidic like some wines can be and it’s not wooded, it is gentle with slight florals and subtle delicious spiciness and fruit. It’s very approachable and easy to drink and matches well to food or alone. We certainly predict, and James Halliday was also quoted, that this will be the next big white variety in Australia after Pinot Grigio which is making its mark right now.
We believe in it so much Glen’s number plate is FIANO. That says it all!

Want to try their Fiano? You can read more about it here:


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