For­get the Barossa and Hunter, na­tion’s best wine­maker is in Qld

Lo­cal wine­maker wins na­tional praise

The Courier-Mail - - FRONT PAGE - EX­CLU­SIVE DES HOUGHTON

HE LEFT school at 15 to chip weeds in the vine­yard, and last night he was named wine­maker of the year.

Mike Hayes, from Bal­lan­dean on the Gran­ite Belt, up­staged some of the finest wine­mak­ers in the coun­try to claim the cov­eted award from the Aus­tralian So­ci­ety of Viti­cul­ture and Oenol­ogy in a glit­ter­ing cer­e­mony in Ade­laide.

“I am es­pe­cially proud and hum­ble be­cause it is the first time a Queens­lan­der has won the award,” he said.

Mr Hayes, 53, the youngest child in a fam­ily of nine chil­dren, is chief wine­maker at Sym­phony Hill, a five-star win­ery in the high, cool cli­mate boul­der coun­try south of Stan­thorpe.

“At last! We have stepped out of the dark ages and achieved some of the recog­ni­tion we de­serve,” Mr Hayes said. “It’s a win for Queens­land and a win for Queens- land wine.” Mr Hayes’ ca­reer has taken off in re­cent years with gold medals at the es­teemed Royal Mel­bourne and Royal Syd­ney and Royal Bris­bane wine shows.

So far this year, he has won 20 gold medals and 16 tro­phies at met­ro­pol­i­tan and ru­ral shows.

He was cho­sen from among al­most 1000 of Aus­tralia’s best wine­mak­ers.

In the final round of judg­ing, he tri­umphed over Fiona Don­ald from Sep­pelts­field in South Aus­tralia, Jeremy Di­neen from Josef Chromy Wines in Tas­ma­nia and Ju- lian All­port from Moores Hill in Tas­ma­nia’s Ta­mar Val­ley.

Mr Hayes said his proud­est achieve­ment was win­ning the top gold at both Syd­ney and Mel­bourne shows.

The wine was fi­nal­ist for Best Shi­raz Tro­phy and Best Sin­gle Vine­yard Wine Tro­phy at 2011 Royal Mel­bourne.

Largely self-taught, he re­cently com­pleted a mas­ters in viti­cul­ture and wine­mak­ing.

In 2012, Mr Hayes was awarded a Churchill Fel­low­ship to re­search al­ter­na­tive va­ri­eties known on the Gran­ite Belt as Strange Birds.

AT LAST! WE HAVE STEPPED OUT OF THE DARK AGES AND ACHIEVED SOME RECOG­NI­TION Wine­maker Mike Hayes

BOTTLER: Largely self-taught Mike Hayes, from Bal­lan­dean, has been named Aus­tralian wine­maker of the year at a cer­e­mony in Ade­laide.

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