Bottle and glass of Snake and Herring chardonnay.

In 2011 two self-professed wine industry junkies ditched their day jobs and kick started their very own wine adventure. Their mission? Discover epic grapes from lesser known sub-regions across Western Australia, and use them to craft award-winning wines adored by wine lovers the world over.

Snake and Herring wine is Redmond ‘Herring’ Sweeny and Tony ‘Snake’ Davis. The pair met at a footy game in Margaret River and bonded over their dream of creating a special kind of wine label, powered by the values and ethos that mattered to them most. (For the full story, listen to the Wine Unearthed podcast with Fleur Bainger).

Sweeny was working in the industry at the time, but wasn’t particularly satisfied.

“I moved on from a wine business in 2010 that my values weren’t aligned to,” he says.

“I wanted to do something I could go boots and all into for the rest of my working life in the wine industry.”

Row of Snake and Herring wine bottles on a plank of wood.

In broad strokes, that’s how Snake and Herring came to be. The self-professed ‘wine obsessed’ road trip is perhaps most perfectly captured by the Snake and Herring logo, which pictures Sweeny and Davis aloft a pirate ship, powered by giant floating grapes, soaring across regional landscapes in search of incredible grape varieties and wine regions.

‘The Safari’ range pays homage to the amazing regional wines Snake and Herring have to offer, like their 2021 barrel fermented ‘Sabotage’ Riesling, which hails from the Great Southern, and their 2020 ‘Tainted Love’ Syrah Rose from Margaret River. The pale pink Syrah Rose stars a creamy palate, notes of raspberry, spice and floral – the perfect drop for a lazy afternoon Down South.

Then there’s ‘The Search’. A series of small batch Snake and Herring wines, which contrast individual sites of provenance. Pairings include the 2019 ‘Hallelujah’ Chardonnay, showcasing fruits from the Porongurup and Great Southern regions, laden with melon and citrus notes for a refreshing fruit finish.

Menu at Snake and Herring cellar door.

What’s in a name

The wines themselves are laden with personality, with each drop cleverly named after a song close to the winemakers’ hearts. The ‘Dirty Boots’ Cabernet Sauvignon (a la Sonic Youth) is a firm favourite with fans of the label. The 2019 Margaret River Cabernet features an earthy, chocolatey flavour, with notes of blackberry and fleshy texture.

“The wine always has a textural element,” says Sweeny.

“They’re not just a fruit bomb.”

Sweeny’s all-star Snake and Herring line-up is a ‘High and Dry’ Riesling to start, then a ‘Corduroy’ Chardonnay and a ‘Calypso’ Cabernet Franc for a strong finish.

“It’s always hard picking a favourite child,” he says.

Wine lovers can choose their own favourites at the vineyard’s Cellar Door in Wilyabrup. In 2020, Snake and Herring added Shallows Loop in Yallingup to their portfolio of managed vineyards, and in 2021 Penny Lane in Forrest Grove made the cut. Each vineyard was specifically chosen for the incredible fruit it yields.

Snake and Herring vineyards.

Conscious farming

Taking care of the land and ecosystems around them is especially important to Snake and Herring. Sustainable farming practices have been implemented across all of their managed vineyards. The duo are aiming for full organic certification in 2024, and they’re working steadily towards achieving carbon neutrality.

In 2021, Snake and Herring implemented biodiversity planting around their Wilyabrup Cellar Door, with the goal of attracting local insects and birdlife to the region. This winter, bird hollows were installed to encourage endangered native Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos back to the area.

Sweeny and Davis both grew up in rural Western Australia, and strongly believe in protecting the land that has given them so much. Renowned Viticulturalist Steve Jones has helped them to achieve this vision, and together, they continue to embrace conscious farming methods that enhance the land for future generations.

The team behind Snake and Herring Wines

Fine drinking

Snake and Herring wines can be found in some of the finest restaurants in Australia, including their very own restaurant and bar, Yarri.4 The award-winning Dunsborough restaurant was launched by Sweeny and Davis in 2018, in collaboration with local legends, Sal Davis and chef Aaron Carr.

The Snake and Herring label has garnered something of a cult following, with many wine buffs joining their Odyssey Wine Club. Members get first dibs on pre-release wines and special events, plus three discounted wine shipments of Snake and Herring wine every year. (And ten per cent off at Yarri Restaurant and Bar.)

The Snake and Herring treasure hunt continues to pay off, with multiple awards and five star reviews in the Halliday Wine Companion. Their next adventure features a diverse set of bold labels, reflecting the unique personality of each drop of wine in their incredible collection.

For Sweeny, the personality of every Snake and Herring wine plays a big part in their appeal. Not to mention the value, quality and of course, the fun.

“For serious wine geeks, we don’t take it too seriously,” he says.

“I hope people see the personality of each child.”

Buy Snake and Herring wine online here, or better yet, stop in at the Cellar Door on Caves Road in Wilyabrup.

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