When did you realise you wanted tobecome a winemaker?
Esther (my wife) and I use to ride horses in the Brisbane Ranges and we wanted somewhere to store the horses nearby. We originally purchased the site in 1994 for this purpose. During this period we had fallen in love with wine and had started building our own collection of both great Australian and overseas wines. After learning more about the production of wine and finding that our site’s terroir was well suited to a vineyard, we decided to start planting vines in 1996.
Please tell us about your career so far.
My journey into wine has been driven by passion and [I am] self-taught. Over the years we have employed a number of winemakers who have supported this process. I do believe the best way to learn something is by doing it. I try to make wines that I love to drink and you keep learning and refining your process to achieve this.
What do you love most about being a winemaker?
Making wine is a mix of art and science. There are so many variables in the process; you can test and experiment with all of them. It’s a never-ending journey of experimentation.
What is your favourite wine, and what food do you typically pair it with?
[I would say] cabernet sauvignon with one of our estate-grown, pasture-fed, Black Angus dry-aged porterhouse steaks cooked blue rare.
Is there a specific process you follow when developing a new wine?
I have reverted back to wild ferments and monitoring fermentation very carefully. For all of our white wines we do wild barrel fermentations in old French oak.
Is there any vintage you’re particularly proud of creating? Why?
2017 was a special vintage for myself. This was the first vintage without another winemaker involved. I like to tell people, “Making wine is like making babies, you want to make your own!” 2021 I am also very excited about. It was a fantastic drawn-out growing season, with great fruit quality and yields. The ferments have been progressing very well so far.
How does the local climate/soil affect the wine you make?
Dramatically – the range of soils that are expressed in our wines and the low rainfall allows us to control our vigor and reduce
disease pressure. The vineyard is located on the Southern slope of Mt Anakie, the main cone of the ‘The Anakies’ volcanic complex, which last had an eruption approximately 1.5-million years ago. The vines are sitting 220–280 metres above sea level on the steeply angled, north-westerly aspect. Our position exposes us to westerly winds and extended sunshine, which provides prolonged ripening conditions, allowing gradual flavour development in the grapes. Prudent drip irrigation is used to ensure vine health in exceptionally dry years and to assist in consistent ripening.
Which of your own varieties do you typically indulge in?
Chardonnay and pinot noir!
Where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think your winemaking will evolve during this time?
I plan to travel more to Europe and spend time visiting other vineyards and wineries. I look forward to further experimentation.
From Wineries of Victoria – Issue 12, edited by Bethany Hayes.