Andrew Koerner—Blue Pyrenees Estate
Andrew Koerner joined Blue Pyrenees Estate in February 2004 bringing a passion for wine cultivated as a youngster growing up in Australia’s wine capital, Adelaide. Working his first vintage in 1987 at Hardy’s Renmano in Renmark and subsequently at Hardy’s Tintara in McLaren Vale, Andrew graduated in 1992 from the internationally renowned Roseworthy Campus of the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Oenology.
The following year Andrew was appointed assistant winemaker with the legendary Len Evans’ Rothbury Group, working at St Huberts in the Yarra Valley. After this group’s acquisition by Beringer Blass, Andrew was appointed winemaker at the historic Saltram winery in South Australia’s Barossa Valley where he worked for four years until he met Rosemount’s Phillip Shaw.
Inspired by Shaw’s approach and winemaking philosophy gleaned whilst show judging with Shaw, Andrew moved to Rosemount in 1999 where he was promoted to senior winemaker with responsibility for premium wines. With the merger of Southcorp and Rosemount in 2001, Andrew was appointed winemaker and winery manager of the Rosemount Denman winery.
Andrew’s accumulated experience across different wine regions, varieties and wine styles has reached its pinnacle at Blue Pyrenees Estate, with one respected wine-writer stating that under Andrew’s stewardship “the Blue Pyrenees wines are the best they have ever been.”
Andrew is a prominent and respected wine judge and panel leader on the Australian wine show circuit.
Robert 'Roo' Heywood—Taltarni Vineyards
Roo grew up in Victoria’s Western District, in Hamilton, developing a love for agriculture while working on farms around the district during his school holidays. After completing secondary school, he took twelve months off to do a GAP year in the UK. During his European travels, Roo found a new love in wine and viticulture and decided to follow this newfound passion upon his return back to Oz. He completed a Diploma in Horticulture at Melbourne University but wanted to focus more on viticulture so it was off to La Trobe University to study viticulture science and winemaking.
Upon completion of his studies, Roo worked as a winemaker in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. Whilst working with some of the country’s best fruit, as well as some of the best winemakers in the Valley, Roo found he had a real passion for red wine making, especially shiraz. During this stint in SA, he traveled to the Northern Hemisphere to do vintages in Bordeaux’s St-Émilion at Château Teyssier in 2004 and 2006. It was while working with the French that he came to fully appreciate and understand the importance of producing the best possible fruit in addition to crafting the best possible wine. With this newfound knowledge, it was time to return to Australia to apply these skills to Australia’s distinctive fruit styles.
In 2008, it was back to the Northern Hemisphere, this time to World’s End Winery in California’s Napa Valley. Roo found an old friend in Cabernet while in the Napa, and his love for the variety was reignited.
Upon his return to Australia, Roo moved ‘home’ to Victoria. He found a fantastic opportunity in 2009 at Taltarni Vineyards and has not looked back since, enjoying the huge variety at Taltarni, not only working with great red fruit but also magnificent sparkling and white varieties. The variety of Roo’s work extends beyond winemaking; he and wife Catherine welcomed their second baby daughter in 2013.
Dog Rock winery is the passion of owners and winemakers Allen & Andrea Hart. They met while both studying winemaking and viticulture respectively at the University of Adelaide in the 1990’s and have lived their passion ever since.
After many years as winemaker and then research winemaker for Southcorp and the Fosters Group, Allen is now full time at Dog Rock as is Andrea who recently left managing one of the regions more famous vineyards.
Allen boasts that he is the winemaker, marketeer and gofer all rolled into one and loves nothing more than tending the vineyard and the raw excitement of vintage.
Mark Summerfield—Summerfield Wines
Mark Summerfield, winemaker and owner of Summerfield has an incredible passion for wine, family, food and life. Mark appreciates how lucky he is to be able to live his passions in the country town where he grew up, Moonambel Victoria.
Marks wines are a reflection of his dedication to excellence combined with traditional wine making methods; all grapes are handpicked, open vat fermented, basket pressed and finished fermentation in oak.
James Halliday rates Summerfield as a 5 Red RED Star winery, in the Top 100 wineries in Australia, describing Mark’s wine making style as ‘very consistent’ . . . with a ‘focus on richness and plentiful soft tannins’.
With his family for inspiration Mark aims to keep producing red wine in the style that he loves to share with loyal Summerfield wine drinkers for many years to come.
Neill Robb—Sally's Paddock at Redbank Winery
When Neill and Sally started Redbank Winery in 1973 you could count the number of boutique wineries in Victoria on one hand. Undeterred, they ploughed ahead, planting the now famous Sally’s Paddock vineyard at Redbank.
Neill was born in Renmark, SA but spend his formative years in the Hunter Valley where his father John Robb was the viticulturist at the McWilliams Mount Pleasant site. No doubt the years spent in the company of Australian wine legend Maurice O’Shea had a significant impact on shaping his career choice.
When John and Jean Robb took up the task of setting up the Chateau Remy vineyards and winery in the early 1960’s, Neill’s dream started to take shape and when he met Sal, it all fell into place.
Neill built the winery brick by brick and shingle by shingle himself by hand and then the house. The first vintage to come through the winery was 1976 from grapes bought in from Moonambel, Avoca, Nagambie and Marong.
Every year since Neill has continued to hone his style of wines, and gain significant praise from industry heavyweights for the Sally’s Paddock blend for the last 30 years.
Never one to sit still, he is always on the move, whether it be lunch in Melbourne or dinner in Shanghai, he is always endeavouring to find new markets where people can appreciate the unique character of Sally’s Paddock and it’s maker.
Darrin Gaffy—Quartz Hill
Winemaker Darrin Gaffy of Principia Wine on the Mornington Peninsula set his sights on being a creator of beautifully crafted Pinot Noirs. He certainly didn’t have Viognier or Shiraz anywhere in his plans. Nonetheless, several vintages later (and after many extremely good reviews) Darrin has had to acknowledge that he must have an unplanned for knack for Viognier and Shiraz. This is evidenced by the wines he makes for his sister and brother-in-law’s wine label Quartz Hill up in the Pyrenees.
Darrin takes the same gentle approach which he acquired in the making Pinots and Chardonnays, and has adapted the approach to Viognier and Shiraz, with great result. Both varietals show the elegance in expression as would be expected in a Pinot Noir. The Shiraz is so elegant it had to be called Syrah, as it was closer to a French Shiraz than Australian! Darrin is an accomplished winemaker and the products he creates have great appeal.