Modern viticultural history here begins with former restaurateur Tom Lazar. Establishing Virgin Hills in 1968, by planting cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot, pinot noir and shiraz, he crafted the iconic Virgin Hills red from a blend of all these varieties. He was followed by the Knights, who founded Granite Hills in 1970 and have produced great riesling ever since. Cope-Williams spearheaded the production of wonderful sparkling wines from 1977, followed by Hanging Rock, established by John Ellis in 1982. Cobaw Ridge, launched in 1985 by Alan Cooper, evolved the region into a leader in the premium organic and minimal intervention space.
From this wonderful lineage a new crew including Bindi (1988), Curly Flat (1989), Athletes of Wine (2005), Place of Changing Winds (2011) and Joshua Cooper (2012) have pushed the reputation of this great region with wines of immense character, quality and terroir. Minimal quantities and more organic viticulture have meant that demand for these super high-quality wines has far outstripped supply.
Bindi, now run by Michael Dhillon, produce some of the best chardonnay and pinot noir in Australia from just 7 hectares of vineyards, including icons such as Quartz Chardonnay, Block 5 and Original Vineyard Pinot Noirs. The soon to be released Darshan and Block 8 pinot noirs are some of the most anticipated new wines coming to market.
Curly Flat, established originally by Phillip Moraghan and Jenifer Kolkka, produced some of Australia’s most highly rated chardonnay and pinot noir, thankfully in greater quantities with much international acclaim, including from Jancis Robinson MW. Evolving further into elegant, modern wines in more recent times under the stewardship of winemaker Matt Harrop, the estate is another cornerstone of the region.