Dr John Gladstones names the Henty GI the coolest climate in Australia, cooler than Tasmania and the Macedon Ranges. This is both bane and blessing, for when it's cold, it's bitterly so. The other fact of life it has to contend with is its remoteness, lurking just inside the SA/Victorian border. The rest is all good news, for this region is capable of producing riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir of the highest quality. Seppelt's Drumborg Vineyard focuses on riesling, pinot noir and chardonnay; Crawford River on riesling; both adding lustre to the region. In 2009 Jonathan (Jono) Mogg and partner Belinda Low made several weekend trips in the company of (then) Best's winemaker Adam Wadewitz and his partner Nikki. They were able to buy grapes from renowned Henty grower Alastair Taylor and the first vintage of Chardonnay was made in '09. The portfolio now also includes Riesling, Gewurztrainer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and The Farm Barossa Shiraz. The wines are made by Ray Nadeson at Lethbridge Wines. Exports to China.
Our Hentyfarm Story:
Jono Mogg and Belinda Low.
It all begins in Henty, in Victoria’s Far South West. Relatively untapped for years, this region’s potential has caught the interest of a few shrewd producers. Now, word is out that it’s a hot spot for cool-climate wine production.
In 2009, we spent several weekends traipsing through Henty in the Victorian countryside with winemaker Adam Wadewitz and his partner Nikki. We just couldn’t turn our backs on this magical combination of super cool climate, limestone bedrock soils and passionate growers, who were guiding the grapes through the sometimes arduously cool and wet conditions. We spent our nights hatching a plan to bring our expression of Henty wines to life.
What happened next is a happy tale of mateship and camaraderie. Our first vintage (2009) was made for family and friends. A Chardonnay, small in number but big on elegance, was a sign of things to come. The second vintage (2010), our first foray into selling wines to friends, restaurants and the retail market, featured a chardonnay and a pinot noir, embraced for their delicate touch and understated style and finesse. The third vintage (2011), also a Pinot noir and a Chardonnay, was made from grapes cultivated by renowned Henty grower Alastair Taylor. When 2012 came around, the continuing fine, linear style of the wines was further established. We were living the dream, making European-style wines of subtlety and restraint, with no guiding forces other than our own creativity and a little experimentation thrown in for good measure. Fulfillment at its best.
In 2013, a Pinot Gris was added to the range, made from celebrated Drumborg grapes tended carefully by “biological grape farmers” Jack and Lois Doevan. In the same year, Adam and his family left Victoria for work in South Australia, and Belinda and Jono embraced full curatorship of Hentyfarm.
The wines are now made under contract by Justin Purser at Best’s Wines in Great Western with the range extended to include a Riesling from Drumborg vineyards and a Pinot Meunier made from small parcels of precious fruit in Alastair Taylors vineyard.
2014 was a difficult vintage throughout the Western and South Western wine growing regions of Victoria. Extremely low yields and harsh climatic conditions meant that in the Henty region, fruit was very hard to source and growers had to rationalise and reduce the amount they could portion to producers.
We were only able to secure tiny amounts of Pinot Gris fruit from Jack & Lois’s Drumborg vineyard – only enough to make 30 cases !
We also brought in just over a tonne of Chardonnay from Alastair Taylor’s vineyard and made a lovely Chardonnay which is now getting ready for release next year.
Our seventh vintage and we were so happy to receive the news that due to our lean year with growers in 2014, we had positioned ourselves for a better fruit intake in 2015. We were able to secure Riesling fruit from Drumborg, with Jack & Lois providing excellent fruit quality and good amounts of Pinot Gris. We also had a better year with Alastair in Heywood with good amount of excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit coming in for processing. We were also extremely fortunate to be offered a parcel of precious Pinot Meunier fruit from Alastair's vineyard. This has been made into a beguiling red table wine in Great Western, where they have incredible experience with this variety and style – having been making this un-common wine for over forty years.
We moved our production to another great friend in wine, Ray Nadeson at Lethbridge Wines in Geelong. Ray is bringing great style and layers of texture to the Hentyfarm wines and has experience with fruit from the Henty region, having sourced fruit from Henty's growers for many years.
So what is our vision?
Hentyfarm is about artistic expression at its most elemental. It starts in the vineyard, where our relationship with the growers is based on respect as custodians of the land. Then the alchemy begins, where the combination of low intervention winemaking, native and introduced yeasts and naturally driven hand-plunged ferments, using older French oak, culminate in wines of finesse and elegance. Our collective approach is rustic and minimal, holding true to the idea that this winemaking venture is a farming practice.
The Hentyfarm family is fiercely intent on keeping our production small and handcrafted. Our wines are not rushed to market, their refined European style needing more time in bottle to develop and soften before heading out to our supportive friends and Australia’s best restaurants and liquor stores.
Despite Hentyfarm’s small beginnings and resolve to make wine for family and friends, we are working hard to stamp the Henty region on Australia’s vast viticultural map. Watch this space.
Hentyfarm produces wines of finesse and elegance that speak of purity and place. They are handcrafted in small batches to highlight the cool-climate region of Henty in Victoria’s far south-west. The Hentyfarm family, led by Belinda Low and Jono Mogg and rounded out by passionate growers, distributors and customers believe strongly in natural winemaking principles and allowing unbridled creativity to craft the direction of the wine styles.
Hentyfarm Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier retail for $35 with the Riesling and Pinot Gris at $25. These are available directly from us and at great restaurants and fine wine retailers.
For more information, visit www.hentyfarm.com.au or call Jono Mogg
M: 0423 029 200