The first chapter of this exciting Australian wine story started in 1992 when the Kirby family planted its first vineyard at Red Hill on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula. Intimately involved in the Mornington Peninsula region for decades, it was only natural that founders Robert and Mem Kirby would plant their first vines in the area.
In 1998, after much searching and careful planning, the Yabby Lake Vineyard was established in the sub-region of Moorooduc.
One year later, a rare and special parcel of land on the ancient Cambrian soils of Heathcote was planted with the sole objective to grow and craft one wine - a single vineyard shiraz.
Around the same time, the family also purchased the original Mount Helen Vineyard in the Strathbogie Ranges.
The Kirby family began working with viticulturist Keith Harris and soon engaged Larry McKenna to oversee the early vintages. Renowned Mornington Peninsula winemaker Tod Dexter was employed in 2004, applying his specialist knowledge of the region.
In 2008, after a decade of careful planning of the family's wine interests, Robert and Mem handed control of the family's vineyards and established labels to their children Nina and Clark.
A large, climatically diverse country with incredibly diverse terrain, producing just about every wine style imaginable, Australia has a grand winemaking history and some of the oldest vines on the planet. Both red wine and white wine from Australian are wildly popular and beloved. Most of Australia's wine regions are concentrated in the south of the country with those inland experiencing warm, dry conditions and those in coastal areas receiving tropical, maritime or Mediterranean weather patterns. Australia has for several decades been at the forefront of winemaking technology and has widely adopted the use of screwcaps, even for some premium and ultra-premium bottles. Thanks to the country’s relatively agreeable climate throughout and the openness of its people, experimentation is common and ongoing.
Shiraz is indeed Australia’s most celebrated and widely planted variety; Barossa Valley leads the way, producing exceptionally bold and supple versions. Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia's second most planted variety, can be blended with Shiraz but also shines on its own particularly in Coonawarra and Margaret River. Grenache and Mourvèdre are also popular, both on their own and alongside Shiraz in Rhône Blends. Chardonnay is common throughout the country and made in a wide range of styles. Sauvignon Blanc has recently surged in popularity to compete with New Zealand’s distinctive version and Semillon is often blended in Margaret River or shines on its own in the Hunter Valley. Riesling thrives in the cool-climate Clare and Eden Valleys. Sticky-sweet fortified wine Rutherglen is a beloved regional specialty of Victoria.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”