Formerly Greenstone of Heathcote, Greenstone Vineyards began in 2003 as a 40 hectare property near the town of Heathcote at Colbinabbin, about a 90 minute drive north of Melbourne. Lying just north of the Great Dividing Range, at an altitude of around 200 metres, the vineyard is positioned on the ridge of old Cambrian soil that runs through the eastern side of the range. This narrow strip is unique, not only to vine growing in Victoria, but in Australia.
The soils are the oldest known in the country, originating over 550 million years ago. Most soils of volcanic origin in Australia are young and highly acidic whereas these ancient Cambrian soils are near neutral in pH. The range itself is a result of a rift in the sea floor, from which molten rock arose, encapsulating limestone into the lava. The resulting soil is deep, red-coloured, mottled with lime and impart low vigour to the 20 hectares of vines growing in it.
It is from these soils that the winery derives its name – The Heathcote ‘greenstone’ is a form of copper-infused basalt, and is an integral part of the soil. The climate and generous red soils of the Heathcote vineyard create a unique combination that is ideal for producing outstanding Shiraz and Sangiovese wine. It is the identification of this prime location that has shaped the Greenstone philosophy – find the best locations to grow the best grapes, regardless of the wine variety. This is the base from which Greenstone crafts and creates outstanding wines, by utilising outstanding
locations, which in turn produce outstanding grapes, and employing the best in winemaking techniques.
Our focus on producing only the finest wines from the finest grapes means that Greenstone has only ever produced very small quantities of wine – we are not interested in making higher volume commercial wines, rather small volume, handcrafted and premium wines.
The ‘success’ of Greenstone’s Heathcote wines led the team to explore opportunities to expand the wine range beyond just the high quality Shiraz and Sangiovese wines Greenstone has become known for. Upholding the requirement to find the best locations for each varietal, the search led to the Yarra Valley – the home of some of Australia’s finest Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Cabernet varietals. The Yarra Valley vineyard has a long history of producing outstanding wines perfectly suited to, and reflecting, the local climate and soils – a critical part of the Greenstone winemaking philosophy.
In securing our Yarra Valley vineyard and winery we also created the opportunity to open a cellar door only 1 hour from Melbourne’s CBD. The picturesque winery is situated on 90 acres at the base of the Christmas Hills – of which 60 acres are under vine.
Originally Yarra Ridge, the winery was more recently known as Sticks Yarra Valley. Greenstone Vineyards completed the acquisition of the vineyard and winery in January 2015. The expansion of our vineyard and wine portfolio hasn’t changed our views on what makes a great wine – we’ve just created the opportunity to produce a wider range of wine varietals in the way that we think great wines are made – by starting with the best sites that produce the best grapes. These wines will be a reflection of the unique characteristics of their regional site.
Han Tao Lau
Han was first introduced to wine during the wine tastings that followed tutorials at high school. While the tutorials may not have done much for his academic proficiency, they ignited his interest in wine. Years later, studies and travel in Europe, and in particular, new friendships with a Japanese and a German sommelier led to serious consideration in a career in wine.
Winemaking studies at the University of Adelaide followed, along with harvests in France, Germany, and various Australian regions. After 14 harvests in the Yarra Valley, he now heads up the winemaking team at Greenstone Vineyards.
“Working at Greenstone Vineyards is a dream come true, as we are able to work with an array of beautiful estate-grown fruit, whether it’s the cool climate varieties from our Yarra Valley vineyard or the warmer climate Mediterranean varieties from our Heathcote vineyard. Both vineyards have outstanding terroir, and it is such a privilege to work with this incredible fruit grown on ancient soils, with a passionate, closely-knit team.”
Sam’s interest in wine began in the early 2000s. Trips with friends to the Barossa and Yarra Valleys quickly turned an interest in wine into a love of wine.
In 2006, while working in the hospitality industry Sam completed a sommelier course which further cemented his decision to work in the wine industry.
After a year of helping to manage boutique wine shops around the South-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, a brief stint working as a cocktail bartender in 5.5 star hotel in Melbourne and a few months working as an underground geo-technician in gold mine in outback W.A., Sam headed over to Europe for a backpacking adventure. It was after several amazing wine experiences in Western Europe that he decided to enrol in a winemaking degree back in Melbourne.
While completing his degree, he was fortunate to start vintage work at Domaine Chandon in the Yarra Valley. He worked in the cellar at Chandon for 6 years and worked a harvest at their Chandon Californian property in 2015. On his return the opportunity to work with
Travis Bush at Greenstone Vineyards was the perfect way to further his passion for varietal wines.
“I feel privileged to work with ultra-premium fruit from both our Heathcote and Yarra Valley vineyards and our small dedicated team that are all passionate about producing the best wines from this fruit. Each one of the Greenstone wines has a unique story that I am always excited to share with people”
The journey and passion for wine continues….