Forget the Barossa and Hunter, nation’s best winemaker is in Qld
Local winemaker wins national praise
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.