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Tonic Wines: South Australian Winemaker

Tonic Wines is Glenn Barry – a small batch winemaker working out of Adelaide, South Australia. 

Although Tonic started as a project between two wine-nerd friends, as the experienced winemaker of the two it turned out that Glenn actually had quite a lot of very practical skills… which is why he took over the full ownership and running of Tonic in 2019. Made sense in the end, really.



Here’s the Tonic manifesto:

  • We believe wine should be a delicious drink.
  • We believe wine should be fun.
  • We believe wine should be enjoyed with good friends in either an a) riotous or b) relaxed setting.
  • We believe in wine that makes you want to have a second glass.
  • We believe (we know) that life is short.
  • We believe in having no regrets. 

We also have a ‘no boring wine’ policy, but that didn’t quite fit into the format we were working with above; nevertheless, it’s important to remember. We recommend adopting this policy for yourself, if you haven’t already. (Or don’t, your choice).


Why Tonic?

The name ‘Tonic’ offers a respectful nod to the apothecaries, spice merchants, botanists and dark arts healers of yesteryear – master craftspeople steeped in history. Bold and courageous. Nourishing and healing and their own rather special ways. 

When we make our wine, we follow this lineage. For us, Tonic is an exercise in unorthodoxy and conviction.


So how do we do things around here?

We draw on a formal winemaking background, sure, but vintage by vintage we always let the grapes guide us towards the end result. And while we are of course sympathetic to environmentally responsible agriculture (most of our grapes are organic), we’re not going to let it be the hill we die (of thirst) on. 

Instead, we’re on a simple quest for truth in flavour through a process we like to call ‘benign neglect’. 

Some might call it lazy. We call it magic.



Finally, those damn strange bottles.

Let’s cover this one off upfront. You’ll notice a few things are different about our bottle and packaging. The day we decided to use a bottle that isn’t even stocked in Australia was the day we started to make things difficult for ourselves. The bottle is a French number that is ordinarily used by Calvados producers in the orchards of Normandy. Bit fancy, sure, but we liked it a lot (and Calvados) – so we persisted with it despite the tyranny of distance and the awkwardness of packaging.
Screwcaps haven’t made it into the Calvados producer’s repertoire yet, so we have chosen to seal the bottle with the best quality natural corks we could find. You might guess that there is something special about them too? You'd be right. For our 2020 release, we've moved to Diam Origine closures. They’re a cool project that is 100% natural. No nasty glues. No cork taint. And on top it helps out our bee friends too, using a beeswax emulsion and binding agent composed of 100% plant-derived polyols (trust us, we know what we're talking about).

And after a few years of wax seals, and a vagabond move to a darker glass, we decided we actually preferred the bottles without the wax… so voila… that's what you'll see on wines dated 2017 and beyond. We also spruced up our labels for our 2020 release, so if you’ve got some of the old stuff on hand… well, it’s probably ready to drink right now, so what are you still doing reading this?