The desire to be different and to explore new and better methods has been in the Barker’s DNA for generations. Barker’s has been on the corner of the original family farm since 1969 and continues to respect, foster and grow along side the land around it.
Barker’s blackcurrant fruit syrup is the number one seller today, but it was wine that the Barker family started with years ago.
In 1969 Anthony Barker began picking the wild elderberries on his farm to create traditional country wines. Gooseberry, strawberry, blackcurrant, apricot and raspberry wines, aperitifs and liqueurs followed with blackberries, loganberries and kiwifruit.
Anthony Barker subscribed to the UK publication ‘The Amateur Winemaker’ where elderberries were proclaimed to produce one of the best non-grape red wines. The rich-coloured elderberry was used as long ago as medieval times when ‘black mead’, a potent concoction made from elderberries and honey, was enjoyed by kings and commoners alike. It was a compelling economic argument that the humble elderberry, growing profusely in the Te-Moana Riverbed bordering Barker’s farm could be harvested for free.
In 1969 Barker’s Wines was born and 1,200 gallons of dry red elderberry wine was made. Within four years 30,000 bottles were sold annually and the cellar door attracted around 20,000 visitors each year.
The Barker family farm has seen many inventions over the years. Anthony Barker crafted his pure elderberry wine using an extraordinary range of simple home appliances; an old washing machine converted for drying corks and a vacuum cleaner to provide the turbo boost for his diesel fired coppers, true Kiwi DIY.
The summer of 1981 saw an endless supply of blackcurrants, father Anthony and son Michael decided it was time to put them to use, and set out to make their first non-alcoholic drink.
“At the time it was innovative and exciting. Dad was considered a bit of a nutter perhaps, but a very innovative one. He made great products and it was a story that people talked about,” said Michael Barker.
Barker’s Blackcurrant, a pure and natural squeezed and pressed juice was a hit with adults and children nationwide. The extensive range of Barker’s juice and fruit syrup blends continue to grow to this day.
In 1991 Anthony Barker launched his signature ‘Anthony Barker’s Preserves’ sold in specialty food stores and delicatessens. New Zealanders soon caught on to the quality of Barker’s preserves, and they’re now found on the shelves of major supermarkets and boutique stockists alike.
In 2019 the company celebrated 50 years. The rural location means the business relies heavily on the natural resources of the land. There is pride in calling Geraldine home and the business continues to invest in this special rural location.
The culture of the business was defined by the personalities of Anthony and Gillian Barker and the rural community it is part of. The business continues to value and nurture this special Barker’s family culture and ‘The Barker’s Way’ has proudly lived on in the business with the long-standing team enjoying the benefits of living, working and playing in the paradise that is South Canterbury.