Mansfield Courier

High Country Vines is Ros’s passion

- By EMMA OLIVER

MANSFIELD’S Ros Ritchie always wanted to follow a career in agricultur­e, but it was the creation of the family vineyard that would direct her passion.

It was in 1969 that Ros’s father Robert planted the first 500 vines, and Robert along with wife Vivienne just kept adding to the vineyard over the following years.

They planted Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, and embracing some pioneering spirit the Ritchies planted Gewurztram­iner grapes - a cool climate variety - at a time when Australia was not known for cool climate styled wine.

Nestled into the foothills of the Victorian High Country, down a dusty lane off the road from Mansfield to Mount Buller, the grapes flourished in the region, and the family found a ready buyer in Brown Brothers in the King Valley.

“Growing up there was always wine on the table - which at the time was quite unusual in the late 60s and early 70s - so we had that awareness and appreciati­on from quite early on,” Ros said.

“Holidays were always pruning and working in the vineyard, and it was something I always enjoyed.”

Studying viticultur­e was just a natural extension for Ros, and it was in November 1981 that on completing her degree she returned home to Delatite.

From 1974 until 1981 the Ritchies sold their grapes on, however, they had always considered the benefits of valueaddin­g.

“I came back to a winery in the throes of being built,” Ros said.

“My parents had employed a consultant to advise on the constructi­on of the winery, and he suggested they give me a go on the first vintage.

“You have your own winemaker already, the consultant said.”

The rewards were immediate. Ros Ritchie was feted as a winemaker on the rise, and the Delatite Winery was immediatel­y on every critic’s radar.

“We had entered our Riesling and Gewurztram­iner on the show circuit initially as a means to introduce our product onto the market, and also to get some feedback on the wine,” said Ros

“It was 1982 and at the time there were these great wine exhibition­s all over Australia, and we wanted to gauge how we stacked up against our peers.

“We hadn’t imagined that we would win anything, and so it came as quite the surprise when we took out some good prizes and trophies.”

Those awards were the first of many for Ros, as she helped the family grow the winery at Delatite.

The 25 years that Ros invested in the winery resulted in a veritable cache of trophies and medals - there were 13 trophies, 39 gold, 67 silver and 210 bronze medals, not to mention the yearly accolades in the Halliday Wine Companion.

Consistent­ly high ratings in the Halliday have followed Ros across to her own winemaking enterprise, Ros Ritchie Wines.

Her wines - 14 varieties in total - are a celebratio­n of the region, whether she is making wines under her own eponymous label or creating vintages for other small vineyards in the shire and immediate surrounds.

We talk to Ros Ritchie about her career championin­g grapes in the High Country in the latest edition of North East Living magazine.

In the Spring/Summer issue we also meet the Kjar family and see the beautiful home they built after a ‘treechange’ to Wangaratta, find some great places to camp in the High Country region and find out the difference local ‘friends’ groups like Friends of Lacluta are making to the lives of people living in Timor Leste.

We also learn about the amazing history of The Vine Hotel in North Wangaratta and see what is on the menu for lunch at Chrismont in the King Valley.

North East Living is available now at the newsagent and local supermarke­ts.

 ?? PHOTOS: Sandra Lording ?? LONG LANE LOCATION: Ros Ritchie Wines is based in purpose-built cellars on 100 acres of shared vineyard in Barwite.
PHOTOS: Sandra Lording LONG LANE LOCATION: Ros Ritchie Wines is based in purpose-built cellars on 100 acres of shared vineyard in Barwite.

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