“After a life in wine, I chose Gippsland.”
Gippsland Wine Company is halfway to Wilsons Promontory on the South Gippsland Highway, around 100 km south of Melbourne. The roaring Bass Coast winds keep the air crisp and tractors moving hay bales slow the winding roads down to a crawl. The fertile, rolling pasture make it prime dairy and beef cattle country and there are plenty of weekenders with untapped vineyards on their properties, planted from the 1970s when the region experienced a resurgence. Rather than an agricultural monoculture, the region boasts natural biodiversity that is celebrated on the local flora and fauna on Gippsland Wine Company’s wine labels.
Gippsland Wine Company is based on the Loch Village Vineyard and Cellar Door in the unofficial appellation of South Gippsland, marked by rolling hills and valleys, maritime influence and dark loams. Long, cool seasons make it ideal for the early ripening varieties, including GWC’s award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. And, elegant, savoury examples of late ripening grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese.
Gippsland Wine Company vigneron, Mark Heath spent 40 years’ working across wine sales, marketing and production in Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and Yarra Valley before venturing into his own vineyards in Gippsland, finally settling at Loch. Mark’s long experience and knowledge of the industry prepared him for his role as Associate Judge at the Gippsland Wine Awards. As well as Loch Village Vineyard, Mark sought out neglected vineyards for long term contracts, coaxing them back to life rather than revert to grazing pasture. Site selection is invariably north-south planting to provide a bit of westerly leaf cover from the sun and wind.