“Internationally there must be a gazillion wines on offer but we overcome this by persistence and just making great wines. I don’t think people overseas are overly different to what consumers in Australia want. They just want a nice bottle of wine that they can sit back and enjoy.”
Victor De Bortoli, the youngest of Deen and Emeri De Bortoli’s four children, had mixed feelings about the family business when he was growing up. On the one hand, the winery and surrounding vineyards were “a massive playground: running around the vineyard on motorbikes, chasing snakes with the bow and arrow, yabbying in the canals, it was just one adventure after another”.
On the other hand there was the expectation that he would also help out at the winery. When he was 12 years old and his brother Darren was first attempting to make what was to become the iconic Noble One, “the old man grabbed us all to spend a day in the vineyard hand-picking those rotten grapes, while my mates were out having fun”.
After leaving school, Victor completed a commerce degree at Australian National University and worked outside of the wine industry for a period before returning to the fold, first as Area Sales Manager for De Bortoli Wines Canberra, then as head of the company’s first offshore branch in London.
The UK posting was both a learning curve and a wake up-call for Victor who, on his return to the winery at Bilbul, discovered the experience had enabled him to “truly understand” the industry and his family’s role in it. After Victor took on the role of head of export operations in 2001, De Bortoli Wines jumped from outside of the top 20 Australian wine exporters to number six in the country. It’s an achievement he describes quite humbly, as “pretty fulfilling”.
Victor’s position in the company has meant many years of extensive travel. Now he has chosen to travel less – with the full support of the family – so as to spend more time with his wife Melissa and their four children. His ideal down time is all about family, friends, food, wine and – like many in his family – gardening.
“I enjoy hanging out in the garden just poking about and growing vegetables. Unfortunately for some plants I really love pruning.”
"Don’t drink red wine warm. The old saying that red wine should be served at room temperature does not mean climate temperature, it actually means cellar temperature out of Europe which around 18 degrees. If you’re at a BBQ and there are reds sitting out on the table, pop them in the esky or fridge for 10 to 20 minutes. You’re not trying to chill them but just taking the heat out of them."
Victor won New South Wales Young Exporter of the Year award in 2001, the year he took over as head of export operations at De Bortoli Wines.