Vineyards, winemaker, brewers win major awards
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.
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.