Nomination a first for Qld
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.