Meet the Winemaker: Stephen Oliver

Stephen Oliver

Location: COTTONVALE (Just North of Stanthorpe), Granite Belt Wine Country, Queensland

What made you decide to become a winemaker?

“My first job as cellar hand was at Heritage Estate under the illustrious winemaker, Jim Barnes (not the singer), with whom I worked for a good 12 years.  I enjoy the science behind the change in structure from grape to glass and still find it fascinating that you can imagine what a drink was, up to say 20 years hence.”

What does your day-to-day look like?

I spend just as much time in the vineyard as in the winery. It’s very important to nip any problems in the bud, and so we are constantly vigilant outdoors.  During vintage, there are so many different ferments, that we have ground breaking software to monitor everything. I love to share this experience with our clients, for example when we do our special events, just for wine aficionados and also for novices. This can be either the Black-Tie dinners, riding an ATV through the vineyard, or as “away from home” events.
Life is never dull!   

Do you have a favourite wine, or one you are most excited about?

I like wines with a triage of tannins, fruit and acidity. My favourite varieties are “Tempranillo” and “Sagrantino” in the reds and “Chardonnay” and “Pinot Gris” in the whites.  The rose gold colours we achieve in our Pinot Gris are amazing. 

Do you have a favourite tool in your trade, that you just couldn’t live without?

“We have a state-of-the-art Spectrophotometer, and software to analyse our wines.”

What do you wish everyone knew about your wine?

Our Heritage Estate wines are Granite Belt grown, hand-picked and produced at our winery with minimal intervention. Our sulphates are around 25 parts per million, not the usual 150 and up to 200 mg/L.  

When you’re not winemaking, what do you like to do on the granite belt?

I have my TAE (Training & Assessment) qualification so, as Deputy Chief of Rural Operations, I am often training new Firemen.  I agist my Speckle Park cattle and they are plenty of work to ensure they are growing and healthy.


Most days I am in the winery, or one of our three vineyards, and I will meet any tours that are organised.


…More about HERITAGE Estate

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