Alan Varney's Australian career (based on an oenology degree from the University of Melbourne) grew out of a vintage stint with d'Arenberg into an 11-year employment, much of it as senior winemaker. He says that this period meant he came to be friends with many of the best local growers in McLaren Vale, the Adelaide Hills and Langhorne Creek. The d'Arenberg vintage typically included making nine varieties, some mainstream, some alternative. He is a brilliant winemaker, saying, ‘I am not afraid to step out of the box and go with my intuition … I only use old seasoned oak with no fining or filtration.' His ability to draw the varietal heart of each wine he makes with alcohol levels between 12% and 14% is extraordinary. He has built an environmentally sensitive winery alongside wife Kathrin's restaurant, Victor's Place, overlooking the rolling hills of the Onkaparinga Gorge. The unspoken question is whether he will increase the small amounts of each wine he makes; my guess is not by much. Varney Wines are the Wine Companion 2021 Best New Winery.