“Heathcote has this amazing 500 million year old Cambrian greenstone soil which is a deep red colour and extends across the entire region. When you add a Mediterranean climate that’s perfect for viticulture it’s an amazing combination that produces incredible Shiraz – big dark fruit, earthy, spicy bottles of rich red gold.”
When the De Bortoli family recently purchased an 80-hectare property in northern Heathcote they were fortunate to inherit Vineyard Manager Brian Dwyer who had already been working on the property for several years. Or, as Brian likes to tell it, “the vineyard was inherited with the purchase of me”.
Brian has been farming for about 20 years, starting with an apprenticeship in horticultural vegetable growing. He went on to complete a Certificate 3 in viticulture and has been working in the agricultural and viticultural industries ever since.
A laid back person who describes his current working conditions – outdoors, with the opportunity to constantly learn in a changing environment – as his ideal, Brian says that his favourite part of vintage is watching the trucks leave the gate.
“I always say “not until it’s on the truck” because anything can happen with the crop up until that point.”
Family is central to Brian’s life and his working day at the vineyard starts with making coffee for his “legendary wife” and finishes when he goes to pick up his daughter Charlie from childcare (after he’s done a final round of the property with his dog – he on the Gator, the dog running). Holidays by the ocean, camping, playing cricket or cooking in the outdoor oven at their home all revolve around the family. “Family is number one for me”, he says.
"Forget the rules and try, try, try. You’ll find what you like and how you like to consume it. In the past Champagne was always served with the beef course, so who are we to say what to drink with what meal?"
The first year that Brian and the De Bortoli family worked together on the Heathcote vineyard they produced the biggest crop since the vineyard was first planted in 1998.