Location: Cottonvale, Stanthorpe area, Granite Belt Wine Country, Queensland
What made you decide to become a winemaker?
“After planting vines with my parents, I was inspired to do two degrees: oenology and environment science. The vines we planted over 30 years ago, are now the very same ones that form the back bone of Heritage Estate wines, along with the 60 year Old Vine Winewood vineyard in the heart of Ballandean.
It was starting at these grass roots, that has inspired me all along and to our planting more vines, last year and this coming spring.” (written August 2020)
What did your introduction to winemaking look like?
“I arrived with the vineyard under stress from botrytis (a fungus), however turned this challenge into taking out the Royal Brisbane Show’s top wine. The following year my Reserve Chardonnay won the biggest competition in Australia & New Zealand, as Winestate Wine of the Year.”
What were you doing before you became a winemaker?
My studies lead me to work firstly in other QLD vineyards and wineries, and then settle back home in 2005 to take over as chief winemaker.
What does your day-to-day actually look like?
“I live with my partner Penny in his modern off grid house overlooking the highest altitude 5 star vineyard in Australia. I have views of vines upon waking and each evening, enjoy a glass of the wine from my fruits and the fruits of my labour.
Beautiful place with beautiful people, magnificent, richly flavoured wines that reflect the hard work and love that goes into making them.”
Do you have a favourite product, or one you are most excited about and why?
“I love each of my wines like a child, with their own personality, so there are no favourites, but just memories of the guidance from vine to divine.”
Do you have a favourite tool in your trade, that you just couldn’t live/work without?
What do you wish everyone knew about your products?
“My viticulture philosophy embraces sustainable vineyard practises, coupled with bold minimal intervention in the winery, but affording a strong focus on making wines where balance and purity of fruit is key. My approach delivers powerhouse wines with a strong sense of integrity, personality, regional character with robust flavours.
In an age of mild subtle balance built to impress judges; these wines are interesting and taste as their varieties should. The chardonnay is balanced with oak, Old Vine Shiraz is unique and interesting and could be cut with a knife and the Moonshine Madness liqueur captures coffee flavours perfectly.”
When you’re not winemaking, what do you like to do out and about on the Granite Belt?
“I have always been an avid fisherman and take an annual, month long pilgrimage to deep sea fishing. I like to swim around 5km every few days in either the Warwick or Stanthorpe pools. Many weekends I will be trail bike riding around the back country of our geographically challenging Granite Belt region.”
Where you’ll find John…
“Most days I am at the winery or vineyard, but only take over serving when our vignerons, Rob and Therese, are away.”