The Winemakers, Norbert & Pamela Baumgartner
Having a European heritage, wine is something I was brought up with. Gradually my palate grew until it became a passion; one day I knew that I would make my own wine – and so the journey began.
I met my wife, Pam, in the late 70s; we were passionate about our sporting pursuits, wining & dining and travelling. I worked in the building industry and Pam in the travel industry. Pam had also previously lived overseas for many years and had collected quite a little cellar of mostly French wines, which I happily helped her consume.
In the late 80s we searched, without success, for a suitable property to establish our vineyard. We set aside the search for a few more years whilst raising our boys and it wasn’t until the early 90s that we started again, this time it took some 9 years before we found our ideal parcel of land. We had searched many possible sites within Victoria, with the Avoca and Heathcote areas always coming first. In the end we decided on Heathcote because the travel time from Melbourne was viable. Both of these areas were known for wonderful productions of the big red Shiraz. In 1999 we realized our dreams when we were shown a magnificent 100-acre block of land in Mia Mia, just south/west of the Heathcote township. This softly undulating property with the Mia Mia Creek running though the north end was as perfect as we could imagine.
During the late 80s & 90s I managed to concentrate on completing viticulture and wine making courses, as well as working in the field with a couple of mentors and again in a winery in Melbourne learning as much as possible. Nothing can prepare you for the enormity of the project we had taken on, from the initial planting of the vines, to where we are today. It has been an extremely hard 9 years for the whole family, but well worth it, because of our distinctive wines which reflect the wonderful meso-climate of our region.
We have deliberately kept our vineyard and winery small so that we are able to handle all aspects of the business. It is sometimes very taxing but rewarding. We use traditional methods for making wine and all the vines are hand pruned every year to gain their maximum potential; we do not use chemicals in the vineyard or winery except for small amounts of sulphur which is necessary at times to help preserve the wines. We produce elegant and sometimes complex wines with great fruit character, fine tannins and lingering flavours. The intense fruit colours are obvious in all our wines; they are rich with vibrant colours of magenta, cherry, & plum.
Seeing people enjoy our wines is the best possible reward because we love to share what we have created. Each year we set aside a small parcel of grapes to experiment with. This is ongoing so be prepared for some surprises in the future and, by the way, Pam is my assistant winemaker when it comes to wine making although she spends a great deal of her time running the office when she is not out pruning or assisting with the vintages.