Rob Sutherland

Viticultural Manager

Rob Sutherland is the Viticultural Manager for De Bortoli Wines' Yarra Valley vineyards, responsible for 240 hectares of vines at the Dixons Creek and Brooklands properties. The 60-hectare Brooklands vineyard near Yarra Glen, was purchased in 2005 and the company inherited Rob who has a passion and fascination for vineyards.

It soon became apparent that Rob's ideas and philosophies were simpatico with De Bortoli's ever-increasing interest in organic and biological farming practices. In three years he has helped convert the entire Brooklands property to biological farming practices and is now overseeing a similar conversion at Dixons Creek that started about six years ago.

Rob grew up on the land, his parents had a sheep and cattle farm near Strathbogie and while he always helped work the farm, Rob decided to study accounting in Melbourne. A couple of years into the course he realised accounting was not for him so he returned to the land. A growing interest in wine led him to study viticulture and he began managing a small vineyard in Strathbogie before taking the job at the Brooklands property.

"I got into vineyards because I had begun to get interested in wine at a basic level," he says. "And that was when I discovered that my passion was working in vineyards. There is a lot more science to it that I enjoy compared to running sheep or cattle. There are so many factors to consider - there are endless permutations and combinations of ways you can grow grapes."

Rob's main passion when it comes to growing grapes is the ever challenging pinot noir. "Pinot and riesling are the two varieties that express where they're grown the most." says Rob. "They're the most terroir related varieties. I really like growing Pinot because the more you put into it, the more you get out of it compared with something like cabernet that you can run over it with a bulldozer and it will  still produce the same grapes. But Pinot is challenging, it can be a bit capricious and if everything is not right it will soon show you."

At present, Rob's focus is on biological farming, eliminating the need for fertilisers and other chemicals and producing fruit with an eye more on quality than quantity.

"What we are trying to do is get a particular biology in our soil that is balanced from growing grapevines," he says. " It is about growing the best grapes we can."