TOBIAS ANSTEAD / Chief Winemaker

When Ian first approached me to join him as Tellurian winemaker I said no. Luckily Philip Moraghan, from Curly Flat called me and said you should meet up with him, he wants to make benchmark Heathcote wines.

My dream is to make expressive wines from beautiful vineyards, so I joined Ian as Tellurian winemaker in 2008. After ten years I am still deepening my understanding of the nuances of our varieties as they mature through different seasons on our lands, on different parts of our vineyard. It takes time, commitment and a bit of experimentation to make wines with personality that are recognisably of a region and place.

One of my first moves was to ask long term friend, viticulturist Tim Browne to consult on managing the vineyard to deliver best possible fruit. In 2009 we started making Tellurian wines at a small rented winery at Carodale before commencing work on our own winery at Toolleen in 2011. Starting from scratch gave us the freedom to create an incredibly simple, beautifully flexible set-up.

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If we want to do 100% whole bunch pressing, no problem, we just move our elevators around and tip everything in. If we want to destem everything first we can do that too.

I came into the wine industry straight out of school knowing nothing about the industry, from a family whose wine drinking extended to Chestnut Teal and Ben Ean Moselle. My ambition was to work outdoors. During my last year of school I worked at Lark Hill winery, where the family encouraged my interest in winemaking and revealed a world connected to the land that would offer me incredible diversity in my life and career. I also worked at Farmer Bros Wine & Spirit Merchants in Canberra, an independent retailer with shelves stacked with great wines from Australia and Europe which really expanded my wine consciousness.

After graduating as a winemaker from Charles Sturt University I became a ‘flying winemaker’ for Cellarworld International consulting to wineries in Romania, Argentina and France.

My greatest inspiration came working as a stagiaire at Domaine Vincent Girardin in the Côte de Beaune. Vincent was an extremely generous man and shared many bottles of Burgundy, his own and others.

I was close to leaving the industry at that time after completing a couple of hard vintages at a very commercial winery in Cowra, processing 3,000 tonnes of fruit alone with no trained cellar hands. But Vincent Girardin gave me back my enthusiasm. He made me realise that winemaking is about much more than logistics. It is about place.

I returned to Australia determined to make wines from small ‘domains’, focusing on the vineyard and letting the wines speak for themselves. I was chief winemaker role at Balgownie Estate, in Victoria for eight years, before joining Ian to establish Tellurian.

We currently grow and make wine from 23 hectares of our own vineyards; with Rhone varieties, shiraz, mouvèrdre, grenache, marsanne, roussanne and viognier as well as Italian’s fiano and nero d’avola which are doing extremely well in our warm Heathcote climate. While shiraz was, and will continue to be the mainstay of Heathcote, I see a bright future for the alternative varieties.

On a personal note I have a great love for Rhone varieties (deepened after a vintage at Cave Yves Cuilleron) and am one of the few people in Australia who enjoy making and drinking viognier.

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