Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Winery Spotlight: Mollydooker


Mollydooker Wines:  Aussie for Left Hander

If you were to write a story that had its ups and downs, trials and tribulations and eventually an overwhelming and sustainable success, you would be reading about Mollydooker.  In just over fifteen years under this label, Sarah Marquis, now sole owner and chief winemaker, has taken this brand from near bankruptcy to  a wildly successful and philanthropic company.  

We were first introduced to Mollydooker wines back in early 2011 when we, as fledgling wine writers, were reaching out to Australian brands, trying to expand our global wine knowledge base.  Their US contact shipped us a few bottles and we were immediately hooked!   How could such young wines be so flavorful and instantly drinkable?  What about aging for years and year?  What is this witchcraft that they are performing in Australia?  We were baffled and excited at the same time.

Sarah Marquis - Owner and Chief Winemaker at Mollydooker
Sarah Marquis - Owner and Chief Winemaker at Mollydooker

In the fall of 2011, we had the opportunity to attend a Mollydooker wine dinner at an obscure, out-of-the-way restaurant in northern Indiana.  Despite the 2.5 hour drive and getting lost along the way, we were over-the-moon for the opportunity to meet some of the MD team, learn more about their history and try some wine blending ourselves, all paired with delicious food.  It was at this dinner where we really began to appreciate the hard work, struggles and determination behind the logo.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these events, don't think twice about it.!  It's an amazing experience.

Mollydooker Wine Dinner
Wine upon wine upon wine at the Mollydooker dinner

Part of the early success of Mollydooker was their uniquely developed and implemented Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme, which helped produced exceptionally flavorful grapes that would be used in the wines.  Sarah herself created many of the early wine labels which included a tab that could be pulled off so you could take it to your local wine purveyor to request it or remember what you drank.

Early labels allowed you to peel a section off and take to your wine store

Mollydooker Wine Labels
All of the Mollydooker wine labels are fun, festive and colorful

But not everything is an overnight success.  The Marquis family found themselves in a situation that would make or break them - literally.  They had just $17 left in the bank and no solid plan for the future.  It was then that what could be dubbed as a series of divine intervention happened - a loan from a businessman, growers offering extended terms, temporary salary reductions and the determination to succeed.   But it was June of 2006 that changed the world for Mollydooker.  Robert Parker reviewed the first Mollydooker vintage and he brutally honest - and impressed!   Because of Parker's notoriety and thoughts on the wines, the wine world agreed and went into a frenzy.  The first Mollydooker vintage was sold out in just 19 days.  Sarah and company were back to business, paying bills early and looking toward the future.

Of course, like any successful business, there are hiccups along the way.   In 2011, a forklift crash destroyed over 460 cases of Mollydooker's flagship Shiraz, Velvet Glove, leaving only a literal handful of bottles available for the US wine market.   At the time, Velvet Glove sold for $185 per bottle, making this a $1,000,000+ loss for the Australian winery.  But again, the team pulled up their boot straps, got back to work and overcame this huge loss.  

Mollydooker Velvet Glove Shiraz:  $1MM Loss
Wine, wine everywhere and not a drop to drink    Photo credit: The Times UK

Fast forward to 2017.   Sarah Marquis becomes the sole owner of Mollydooker Wines and also leads the way behind the scenes as head winemaker.  Her son Luke, aka Blue Eyed Boy, has begun participating in the family business, often in front of wine fans as a face for the company.  The wines continue to receive glowing accolades and have an ever-increasing global fan base.  But it has never been "just about wines" to Sarah.  She wholeheartedly believes in supporting organizations near and dear to her hear with the Mollydooker "Sip It Forward" program.  

In 2009, Mollydooker began a partnership with Transform Cambodia that allowed them to open three education centers for children.  300 children participate in this program which allows them not only the ability to learn English, but also provides them with a healthy and safe haven.

Transform Cambodia
Mollydooker supports Transform Cambodia

Mercy Multiplied was founded in 1983 and is dedicated to supporting women and girls in abuse situations with free and safe residential programs.  Mollydooker supports 20 women in this program annually.  

Closer to home, Mollydooker is a proud sponsor of Hutt Street Centre.  This organization supports the homeless and vulnerable people of Adelaide by providing shelter, food, warmth and safety.  

It is easy to see why we honored Sarah Marquis on International Women's Day in early March.  We are completely blown away by her tenacity, business sense, talent and philanthropic endeavors.  We hope, one day. to meet her at Mollydooker's Cellar Door in South Australia.  But until then, we will continue to be ambassadors of the brand through our posts and we will continue to be Mollydooker fans!

What does the future hold for Sarah Marquis and Mollydooker?  We can't wait to find out!

The MollyVan Wine Bar
Who wouldn't love to sip wine from the MollyVan wine bar?


Mollydooker Wine Accolades

  • Five 99-point Wine Advocate scores from Robert Parker
  • Winestate's Number 1 Australian & New Zealand Wine of the Year
  • Wine Spectator Top 10 Wines of the World - three times!
  • Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the World - eight times!
  • Business SA Regional Exporter of the Year 2017
  • Business SA Beer Wine and Spirits Exporter of the Year 2019
  • Australian Women in Wine Owner/Operator of the Year Award 2018
  • Telstra South Australian Business of the Year 2019

Frey Ranch Bottled In Bond Straight Rye Whiskey

On a 1,500 acre farm in Fallon, Nevada comes some of the best whiskey we have tasted to date.  The Frey family has been farming this ground ...