2017 Yarra Valley Vineyard of the Year
Heat waves, hail storms and bush fires; working through the night at harvest and getting up in the dark to frost alarms in spring. All of it seemed worthwhile to Chris Messerle, Handpicked's Senior Vineyard Manager when Highbow Hill Vineyard won the 2017 Yarra Valley Vineyard of the Year at the recent Yarra Valley Wine Show awards.
Having managed the vineyard for 18 of its 20 years, in recent years with vineyard hand Mark Noonan, Chris has seen it all. The darkest days were the Black Saturday fires of February 2009 when part of the vineyard was destroyed and Chris and his family escaped "just in time". It took a supreme commitment to rebuild after such trauma, so it was really special for Chris when a wine from the replanted vineyard won a trophy at the 2016 Concours des Vins de Victoria.
The Yarra Valley judges noted big improvements in the vineyard since Handpicked Wines bought the property in 2013, including a commitment to sustainable practices that enhance overall vineyard health.
“Environmental improvement is a huge factor, but sustainability is also about economic sustainability, resource management and meeting our responsibilities to staff and neighbours," said Chris.
He reckons the best days are yet to come for Highbow Hill, “This year we had five wines score 95+ in the James Halliday Wine Companion; that’s just stunning!”
Director of winemaking Peter Dillon said the extra effort from the Highbow team was reaping rewards in the cellar. “The 2017 wines in barrel are the best Highbow wines I have seen.”
Learn more about Highbow Hill Vineyard.
2017 Royal Melbourne Wine Awards
Handpicked is kicking goals on the Mornington Peninsula too, with the 2016 Capella Vineyard Pinot Noir winning a gold medal at the 2017 Royal Melbourne Wine Awards. This is on top of a gold medal in last year’s awards for the 2015 Collection Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir.
“Melbourne is an iconic show for young red wines and, with successive gold medals, Capella Vineyard continues to perform at the highest level.”