Honour roll

Vine­yards, wine­maker, brew­ers win ma­jor awards

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMIE KRONBORG jkro­n­borg@ne­me­dia.com.au

THE high craft and en­ter­prise of a pair of Beech­worth vine­yard own­ers, a wine­maker and brew­ers have been recog­nised across the coun­try in the past week.

Indigo Vine­yard west of Beech­worth pro­duced the fruit for a 2016 Bro­ken­wood Indigo Vine­yard chardon­nay which, at the North East Wine Chal­lenge in Myrtle­ford on Septem­ber 20, was judged ‘wine of show’ from a field of 213 en­tries.

The an­nual Chal­lenge is a dis­tinc­tive com­pe­ti­tion which ranks wine by style from the wider re­gion’s five ge­o­graph­i­cal in­di­ca­tions, or wine dis­tricts – Alpine Val­leys, Beech­worth, Glen­rowan, King Val­ley and Ruther­glen.

The Chal­lenge judg­ing also de­liv­ered gold medals for Beech­worth wine­maker Adrian Rodda for wines made for his A. Rodda la­bel and for Fight­ing Gully Road, a vine­yard about five kilo­me­tres south of Beech­worth owned by Whorouly and Beech­worth viti­cul­tur­al­ist Mark Walpole.

Then on Fri­day Mr Walpole was named 2017 ‘viti­cul­tur­al­ist of the year’ by the pres­ti­gious Gourmet Trav­eller Wine mag­a­zine.

That evening Ben and Maria Kraus’s Bridge Road Brew­ers won four gold medals at the Syd­ney Royal Beer and Cider Show and the brew­ery’s ‘ Lit­tle Bling’ was named best bot­tled beer.

Mr Hawk­ings ap­plauded the con­tri­bu­tion of Indigo Vine­yard’s staff to its suc­cess in the North East Wine Chal­lenge, in which the 2016 Bro­ken­wood Indigo Vine­yard chardon­nay was also judged the best white wine.

IT achieved 96 points – a ‘great wine’ on the 100-point sys­tem de­fined by the highly re­garded Wine Spec­ta­tor and ‘out­stand­ing’ in the Aus­tralian points sys­tem adapted for his Wine Com­pan­ion by James Hal­l­i­day, him­self a found­ing share­holder in Bro­ken­wood in the Hunter Val­ley in the 1970s.

An­other 2016 Bro­ken­wood Indigo Vine­yard chardon­nay, ‘Men­doza IV’ – made from a va­ri­etal clone, also achieved 96 points on the count of the Chal­lenge judg­ing panel led by Aus­tralian Al­ter­na­tive Wine Va­ri­eties’ chief judge Jane Faulkner.

Mr Hawk­ings was ad­di­tion­ally awarded the Chal­lenge tro­phy as ‘viti­cul­tur­al­ist of the year’, but said that honour was due to Indigo Vine­yard’s for­mer Casey White, who man­aged the vine­yard when the grapes for the win­ning wines were pro­duced.

Mr White has only re­cently moved to work for the Kinzbrun­ners, of Gi­a­conda, a short dis­tance up the road to­wards Beech­worth.

Mr Hawk­ings, who has been a long­stand­ing Bro­ken­wood share­holder, said recog­ni­tion for Indigo Vine­yard’s suc­cess should also go to Brad Day, Peter Tate, Selina Ri­ley, Derek Bulte and Dan Abotomey, the new vine­yard man­ager re­cruited from Camp­bells in Ruther­glen to re­place Mr White.

He ex­plained that Bro­ken­wood and Indigo Vine­yard had a long con­nec­tion and the for­mer’s in­ter­est in the lat­ter prop­erty – once owned by Ever­ton Up­per’s Ma­son fam­ily – stemmed from an orig­i­nal pro­posal that Bro­ken­wood’s share­hold­ers would pur­chase it.

Bro­ken­wood ul­ti­mately de­cided not to pur­sue the op­por­tu­nity but Mr Hawk­ings and some other in­vestors did.

“It (the farm) had been iden­ti­fied as a se­ri­ously good wine site,” Mr Hawk­ings said.

Bro­ken­wood takes about 200 tonnes of wine grapes from Indigo Vine­yard’s 300t an­nual pro­duc­tion, to which Indigo adds a fur­ther 100t sourced from the vine­yards of Mr Walpole and Whorouly’s McNa­mara fam­ily.

“Bro­ken­wood it­self has only a very small vine­yard (in the Hunter), of about eight hectares, and uses ours and oth­ers’ grapes to make ‘sin­gle vine­yard’ wines in which the source of the fruit is iden­ti­fied on the la­bel – hence the Indigo Val­ley name on th­ese wines,” Mr Hawk­ings said.

Mas­ter of wine Nick Bul­lied wrote in the lat­est edi­tion of Gourmet Trav­eller Wine that Mr Walpole had a long ca­reer at Brown Broth­ers’ vine­yards in the King Val­ley be­fore grow­ing his own vines and “cham­pi­oning new va­ri­eties in Aus­tralia”.

He bought the Fight­ing Gully block above the Mur­mungee es­carp­ment and start­ing de­vel­op­ing it for vines in 1995.

PHOTO: Jamie Kronborg

GOLD: Indigo Vine­yard prin­ci­pal Rob Hawk­ings was de­lighted with last week’s North East Chal­lenge ‘wine of show’ tro­phy for the 2016 Bro­ken­wood Indigo Vine­yard chardon­nay, which achieved 96 judg­ing points. Mr Hawk­ings was also named ‘viti­cul­tur­al­ist of the year’ by Chal­lenge judge Jane Faulkner, but he said that honour prop­erly be­longed to Casey White, who has since been ap­pointed Gi­a­conda vine­yard man­ager.

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