Nom­i­na­tion a first for Qld

Stanthorpe Border Post - - NEWS -

AC­CLAIMED Sym­phony Hill Wines wine­maker, Mike Hayes, has re­cently been awarded two sep­a­rate and pres­ti­gious awards for his out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the wine in­dus­try.

An ar­ti­cle in Tues­day’s Stan­thorpe Bor­der Post in­cor­rectly stated he had won one award from both the ASVO (Aus­tralian So­ci­ety of Viti­cul­ture and Oenol­ogy) and the Queens­land Wine Awards, how­ever the awards were not re­lated.

A viti­cul­tur­ist and wine­maker with the Gran­ite Belt’s Sym­phony Hill Wines, Mr Hayes won Queens­land Wine­maker of the Year at the re­cent 34th Queens­land Wine Awards 2107.

At the awards cer­e­mony in Bris­bane last Wed­nes­day night, Mr Hayes and the Sym­phony Hill Wines wine­mak­ing team won four tro­phies, four gold medals, six sil­ver medals and 18 bronze medals, amount­ing to 28 of the 93 medals pre­sented.

Sym­phony Hill Wines also won Queens­land Win­ery of the Year.

In a sep­a­rate an­nounce­ment, two weeks ago Mr Hayes was also told he was one of four fi­nal­ists to have been nom­i­nated to win the Aus­tralian So­ci­ety of Viti­cul­ture and Oenol­ogy (ASVO) Wine­maker of the Year.

He is the first Queens­lan­der to be nom­i­nated and be­come a fi­nal­ist in th­ese awards, and the win­ner will be an­nounced at a cer­e­mony at Car­rick House in Ade­laide on Novem­ber 14.

“We’re just go­ing down to en­joy the mo­ment and cel­e­brate be­ing a fi­nal­ist,” he said.

Mr Hayes said the main in­spi­ra­tions in his work as a wine­maker have been his daugh­ter Jes­sica, his wife An­drea, and his teacher

John Neville, who at Stan­thorpe State High

School dur­ing the 1970s “in­spired me be­cause I lis­tened to what he had to say, and later in life I lis­tened to my elders”.

“I wouldn’t be any­where with­out those peo­ple,” he said.

He said he also wanted to

❝ I wouldn’t be any­where with­out those peo­ple. — Mike Hayes, wine­maker

thank the wine-mak­ing in­dus­try, Sym­phony Hill Wines, and his work col­leagues.

As a di­rec­tor with the Queens­land Wine In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion, an ad­junct pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of South­ern Queens­land, a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee of the Aus­tralian Al­ter­na­tive Va­ri­eties wine show, and a board mem­ber of the Post En­try Quar­an­tine Ad­vi­sory Group as a del­e­gate for the wine in­dus­try, Mr Hayes has fos­tered a per­sonal wealth of wine-mak­ing knowl­edge.

As a well-es­tab­lished ex­pert in the field with an ob­vi­ous pas­sion for “do­ing what I love”, Mr Hayes is cur­rently work­ing at es­tab­lish­ing vine­yards for the fu­ture, and in­spir­ing oth­ers to learn about al­ter­na­tive wine grape va­ri­eties.

Th­ese are rare va­ri­eties, or any­thing that’s less than 1% of all wine grapes grown in Aus­tralia. They in­clude Saper­avi, Ver­mentino, Fi­ano, Mon­tepul­ciano.

At Stan­thorpe’s Queens­land Col­lege of Wine Tourism, he’s set­ting up vine­yards for the fu­ture which he hopes will ben­e­fit the Aus­tralian wine in­dus­try.

“We put in half a dozen vines of 100 va­ri­eties; th­ese are set up and we im­ple­ment th­ese va­ri­eties to deal with dif­fer­ent cli­mate changes. They have been virus tested and DNA tested.”

Mr Hayes said he holds work­shops about how to graft grapes, work with soils and work with the grapes, as well as con­duct­ing mas­ter classes in al­ter­na­tive wines.

Mr Hayes, a third-gen­er­a­tion Bal­lan­dean boy who be­gan “chip­ping weeds” on 35 acres at a Gran­ite Belt win­ery af­ter com­plet­ing his ju­nior cer­tifi­cate in 1979, dis­cov­ered a love for the in­dus­try and im­me­di­ately be­gan forg­ing a path that he now “never takes for granted”.

He said that in the early 1980s, there were only five wineries on the Gran­ite Belt where he would ded­i­cate him­self to work­ing and prun­ing.

In 1995, Mr Hayes started de­sign­ing and set­ting up vine­yards in south­ern Queens­land and north­ern New South Wales.

By 1999, he was work­ing for Sym­phony Hill Wines and in 2005 he be­came their wine­maker, so far win­ning 100 gold medals and 90 tro­phies.

In 2008, Mr Hayes stud­ied his Mas­ters de­gree in al­ter­na­tive wine grape va­ri­eties, grad­u­at­ing in 2012. Also in 2012, he com­pleted an Aus­tralian wine as­sess­ment course in SA and was awarded a Churchill Fel­low­ship.

In 2013, he toured Europe re­search­ing al­ter­nate wine grape va­ri­eties, ex­plor­ing 50 wine re­gions and look­ing at 650 grape va­ri­eties.

In 2014 he was awarded the Samuel Bas­sett award for the most sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion of an in­di­vid­ual to the QLD wine in­dus­try and in 2017 he was pre­sented the Univer­sity of South­ern Queens­land Pro­fes­sional Alum­nus of the Year Award.

And, his ad­vice? “Ev­ery time you go out, just don’t keep drink­ing the same thing. Ex­plore the beauty of the al­ter­na­tive grape va­ri­eties … there’s 20,000 dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties in the world.”

Mr Hayes, who has worked in 16 re­gions across Aus­tralia and New Zealand, said Italy in­spired him as a coun­try, es­pe­cially the Alto Adige re­gion.

“I came across some re­mark­able va­ri­eties there with beau­ti­ful plush­ness and soft­ness and round­ness,” he said.

“I think the Ital­ian peo­ple in gen­eral are in­cred­i­ble be­cause they have the abil­ity to match food and wine within their re­gion and they have that lo­cal touch where ev­ery­thing is grown lo­cally which I ad­mire.”


CHEERS TO THAT: Mike Hayes has been short­listed as the first ever Queens­land wine maker to be in the run­ning for Aus­tralian Wine­maker of the Year.


Mike Hayes with wife An­drea and daugher Jes­sica at Snowflakes fes­ti­val.


Sym­phony Hill wine maker Mike Hayes could soon be Aus­tralia's best.

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