Taras Ochota has passed away peacefully, this was made known through what was posted across the social media today, October 13, 2020.
He is the son of Ukrainian immigrants, Taras Ochota had a schooling in both natural viticulture and winemaking from a young age. His parents planted and farmed vineyards in the Clare Valley the way they knew how, which was manually, and without employing pesticides or herbicides. And they made wine simply, as their ancestors would have. That wine was not aspirational in intent, but rather something that you made because you grew grapes, just like you might make passata or pickles. Nonetheless, this early education was the underpinning for both Ochota’s eventual career, as well as for its deeply philosophical nature.
Diverted by surfing, a successful, if fledgling, musical career in a punk band and a hospitality degree, Ochota gradually drifted back to wine. Piecing together vintage work around the world that conveniently brushed against surfing trips and gigs, the desire crystallised in him to make a career of it. Winemaking, that is. Returning home, he completed his Oenology Degree at the University of Adelaide, before making wine at Two Hands, in the Barossa, as well as for an importer in Sweden, where he both ‘finished’ imported wine, as well as worked with producers around the world to make bespoke products.
Finally settling in the Adelaide Hills for good, working at Nepenthe under Peter Leske kept Ochota out of trouble, but the lure of making his own expressions was far too great. Time spent making wine on a larger scale, and to please a market, left Ochota with a clear perspective on wanting to do the opposite, by making fresher styles that didn’t supply to recipes or established norms. This was about the time that Tom Shobbrook and Anton Von Klopper were making some of the first ‘natural’ noise on the local wine scene, back when the Basket Range had none of the avant-garde connotation it does today.
Taras launched his own label, Ochota Barrels, with his wife Amber. The wine company has grown to become a beacon for minimal-intervention wine and one of Australia’s most boundary-pushing winemakers.
Taras’ Ukrainian grandparents were making minimal intervention wine in South Australia’s Clare Valley long before minimal intervention wine became the ‘hot new thing’ it is today. They grew grapes without pesticides, made wines without sulfur and drank from old Vegemite jars. This lo-fi approach and lack of pretense has been a key influence in Taras’s attitude to wine and life.
He is survived by his wife and his two kids.
Emma Symington MW wrote – The saddest news this morning that this wonderful human, Taras Ochota, has passed away. Gentle, funny, intelligent and with a way of looking at things differently to everyone else. Not to mention an incredibly talented winemaker. He will leave a massive hole. RIP Taras x.
Christina Pickard wrote – very sad news that we lost Taras Ochota today, Taras was our assistant winemaker a number of years back, he was put simply a top bloke and I was so proud and happy to see what he and Amber had created with there wines, days like this suck, will raise a glass to my dear friend MT.
We lost a good one today. Taras Ochota, Ochota Barrels in Adelaide Hills, SA, Australia. Godspeed, Taras. This truly sucks. pic.twitter.com/1SS6tJLrSR
— Maynard J Keenan (@mjkeenan) October 13, 2020
Vale Taras Ochota. Legendary winemaker, rock star and a truly talented and generous man. Our thoughts are with his family 🖤 pic.twitter.com/qKbFpjlclv
— Gourmet Traveller WINE (@gtWINEmag) October 13, 2020
The Winewalkaabout With Kiwi and Koala wrote – So very saddened to learn of the passing of Taras Ochota tonight.
The first time we met was probably 2014. A winemaker friend had mentioned this guy you have to meet and on the spur of the moment called and said “I’m going to send my friend over to check out your wine “ with sketchy directions in the pouring rain we made our way through the @adelaidehillswine region through the valley and up the soggy gravel road to his house.
This scruffy unkept bloke with wild hair and a sparkle in his eyes waved me into the shed where he shared his treasure with me. His contagious energy and enthusiasm had me hooked as we went from barrel to barrel with a story in every one. Thank you for sharing your time with me on that cold rainy winters day Taras. RIP
Cause of Death
Taras Ochota, one of Australia’s most talented and respected winemakers who has been battling with an illness for many years was reported to have died today October 12 2020.
Funeral Service & GoFundme
Funeral services will be made known as soon as it is being updated. Memorial donations may be made in David Gale’s name through the GoFundme page.