Family life in the Grampians.
The story so far…

“The Grampians is where I want to make wine.”

“The Grampians is where I want to make wine.”

Adam Louder is winemaker and co-founder of SubRosa Wine. His first job, part-time while still at school, was at the local award-winning winery, Best’s of Great Western. He didn’t know it at the time, but it was the spark that ignited a passion for making wine.

By the age of 43 he had worked 39 harvests. No he didn’t start making wine when he was four…he travelled the world, from hemisphere to hemisphere, chasing the grapes. His experience spans the globe from Grampians, Bordeaux (France), Napa Valley (USA) to Margaret River.

His favourite place to make wine? Where he is now, back home in the Grampians.

Adam Louder, winemaker at SubRosa standing in front of wine tanks

“Bringing people together is the real pleasure of wine.”

“Bringing people together is the real pleasure of wine.”

Nancy is everything other than winemaker for SubRosa Wine. She can actually take credit for the launch of SubRosa. While living in San Francisco, she met Adam, a winemaker in Napa Valley. Swept up in his passion for winemaking, or was it the bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet, she recognised his innate talent. It’s her goal to make sure other’s know and taste it too.

What does she love about wine? It brings people together. And she loves experimenting with wine and food pairing.

nancy panter, co-owner of subrosa wines in the grampians wine region

Together, we are the SubRosa story.

When did your love of wine begin?

Adam – Growing up in the Grampians, it’s always been a part of my life. In my last years at school, I worked at Best’s, Great Western during school holidays, with my uncle. At first it was just a way to make some cash but soon enough I was hooked. The more I learnt, the more I wanted to learn. I still feel the same way today.

NancyI’ve always been interested in wine. When I was 22 I took a wine appreciation course in Sydney for 10 weeks. One day our teacher brought a bottle of Grange to share. I’m not sure I truly appreciated it but it left a lasting impression on me.

nancy panter and adam louder co-owners of subrosa showing subrosa wine at a tasting

What are some pivotal moments along your journey into wine?

Adam – In 1998, when I was 18 years old, Trevor Mast, one of Australia’s greatest winemakers, asked me to work with him. I was so lucky to have him as my mentor at this early stage of my career. His enthusiasm, passion and innovative approach to winemaking and viticulture was contagious.

Nancy – I was in San Francisco, living a busy corporate life, travelling the world, working in sports marketing on events including the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup and the NFL Super Bowl. It was fun, fast-paced, very social and hectic – I loved it. Then I met Adam, an Australian country boy, making wine at one of the most prestigious wineries in the Napa Valley. He reminded me of all that I missed about Australia with his down-to-earth character, witty sense of humour and authenticity. I could see a great future with Adam, I knew it was time to return home.  I’ve always wanted to raise a family in the country, and with Adam’s passion for winemaking, I could see us running a boutique winery, with a family, together in the Grampians.

Adam – Between 2005 and 2009 I was doing a crazy amount of travelling for back to back harvests. During our winter I’d be in France, helping manage harvest at Château Carsin in Bordeaux. When that was done, I’d head to Margaret River in Western Australia, work the harvest until August, then back to Bordeaux. Five years of hopping from hemisphere to hemisphere – it was intense but an incredible way to learn quickly. I travelled Europe, enjoyed amazing food and wine experiences, immersed myself in the culture of wine and led some great teams. I experienced the old world versus new world approach to fine wine first hand.

The subrosa vineyard in the grampians. Kids running along the row of vines.

Why the Grampians?

Adam – I’m born and bred in the Grampians. I’ve worked and lived in some beautiful places around the world, but I am happiest in Australia, in the bush. I believe the Grampians is the ideal place to make wines I love – full of flavour, drinkable early but able to last the distance.

Nancy – I love being in nature. I grew up on the Gold Coast, Queensland, so I have a strong connection to water and nature. San Francisco, where I lived for many years, is also on the water but not far from the Sierra Mountains. It gave me a taste of mountain life and I liked it. Then I met Adam and he painted this amazing picture of life in the Grampians. I was hooked and now here we are, with two kids, a dog, cat, a home in the bush and a wonderful life.

When did SubRosa become a reality?

Adam – I’ve always wanted to make wine my way, to share with friends. I just needed someone to help make it happen. That’s Nancy. She is the driver of SubRosa. Always looking to grow our business and push us to be better at what we do. I get to concentrate on what I love doing, making wine, and she looks after everything else, and I mean everything…

Nancy – The first year we made SubRosa wine was in 2013 (released in 2015). We started with Grampians (and a little Pyrenees) Shiraz, Grampians Nebbiolo and Grampians Chardonnay. It was Adam’s first vintage of his wine, done his way. Looking back, it was made possible with the help of those who influenced Adam along his wine journey.

Adam – This first vintage in 2013 still lives with me. I was working with Dr Graeme Bertuch, who also happened to be the local doctor who delivered me. The deal was I would make his wine and be paid in grapes – Shiraz from Mt. Cole and Malakoff Estate. Nebbiolo from Mt Cole. Chardonnay from Mast Hill (the backyard of Trevor Mast’s old house). For picking and fermenting, Best’s, where I worked my first wine job, kindly lent me a three-tonne bin for the Malakoff Estate Shiraz. All was going well until Chardonnay press time. At the crucial moment our press broke. I was able to borrow a basket press from Mount Langi Ghiran, originally belonging to Trevor Mast. Five years later I became Chief Winemaker here. It was a trying time but worth all the effort.

What’s the story behind the name and label design of SubRosa?

NancySubRosa is Latin for ‘under the rose’. In ancient times, a rose was hung over the table as a mark of secrecy. What was said under the rose, stayed under the rose. The moment we found the term”sub rosa” in the dictionary it just felt right. To me, a SubRosa wine experience is great wine shared with friends and food and fabulous conversation…maybe even a secret or two!  

The label design is from Adam’s imagination, brought to life as an illustration by friend and artist, Janette Lucas.

It’s not just any rat, it’s a content rat with a gold tooth, on a throne. He’s in a blue bond’s singlet, wearing a monocle, holding a pipe in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. His pocket watch is stopped at 10 past four. Look closely and you’ll see three roses – one in the crest and two on either side.

Adam – Cellar workers are affectionately known as cellar rats. They’re the backbone of the winery, into everything. I identify with this character – the cellar rat is engaged in constant activity, the first to arrive and often the last to depart, leaving a clean winery with sparkling floors and neatly coiled hoses in their wake. He also knows how to enjoy the finer things in life, like wine.

bottle of the subrosa 2018 grampians shiraz lying on the granite in the grampians wine region

What’s in the future for SubRosa?

the view of the grampians wine region from the subrosa wine farm

Nancy – SubRosa wine crafted from SubRosa grown grapes. Adam has taught me flavour starts in the vineyard. His intuition to know when to pick grapes verges on supernatural.  From years of working the harvest, tasting hundreds of grapes a day, he knows that perfect moment. I want to see him do that with our own grapes.

Adam – We believe in regenerative farming and planted our first vines in November 2023. Our west facing vineyard at the base of Mt Cole has pretty average granite soil which is ideal for Viognier, Nebbiolo and Shiraz.

the view of the grampians wine region from the subrosa wine farm