Where It All Began
My parents had a Hunter Valley vineyard in Pokolbin, so we often went there on weekends. Our DeBeyers vineyard was next door to the Tyrrell’s winery and home and I spent a lot of time kicking about there as a young lad. I was lucky to have legendary wine grower Murray Tyrrell mentor me through my early career and encourage me to study Agricultural Science, which I did at Hawkesbury Agricultural College. I think I enjoyed college life too much, so I stayed and completed a second degree, this time in Environmental Science, which was fairly pioneering at the time. One night at the college bar I met fellow student there, now my wife Lisa. That was destiny as we have gone on to be a great team, on and off the field.
After graduation, I moved to the Hunter Valley and worked at Tyrrells gaining experience in all areas of wine growing and making. Several years after, Lisa and I moved to France for a few years where I made wine in several regions and wineries. This exposed me to different approaches to winemaking and helped me develop a greater respect for viticulture, the important link between the two and admiration for wines that showed a distinct sense of place.
After about fifteen vintages at Tyrrells (and a few extra as a teenager on school holidays) coupled with six in Europe, I had developed my own winemaking philosophy.
It was then that Lisa and I started thinking about our own wine brand.
In 1991 we planted our first small vineyard on our Ceres Hill property in the picturesque village of Broke and in 1996 we launched our wine brand, Margan. Over the decades our wine business has grown and evolved and now includes a winery, cellar door, restaurant and one hundred hectares of distinguished vineyards.
Over 40 vintages I have developed my own unique style of winemaking. I make wines of structure, balance, elegance and texture. Wines that speak of their variety and the soil in which they are grown. And importantly, wines with their own sense of place.
What I like to think I bring to the table in this ultra-competitive wine world is the important connection between growing our own grapes and making our own wine. I have strong views on how to grow fantastic fruit here in the specific climate of the Hunter Valley. Our vineyards are all located in the Broke Fordwich sub region and the styles of wine are a little different to other areas in the Hunter. This is why Margan wines are unique and I think, special.
We are regarded as a leading Hunter Valley winery and I am pretty happy when I think of every bottle of the 25,000 cases we make annually being opened and enjoyed somewhere around the world. It drives me to grow the best grapes and make the best wines I can from each vintage.
I was proud to be awarded the Hunter Valley Viticulturist of the Year 2015 in recognition for the quality of our vineyards and the innovative viticultural techniques I employ. I have pioneered the introduction of the new varieties Barbera and Albarino into the Hunter Valley as well as the ground-breaking Field Blends of Shiraz Mourvedre and Tempranillo Graciano Shiraz. Margan have been awarded a consistent five star rating in the James Halliday Wine Companion since 2009 due to the quality of our single vineyard wines and focused winemaking.
As mentioned, that second degree in Environmental Health allowed me to meet my future wife but it has also come in handy of recent years working on our environmental management plan which we rolled out in 2010. From the very start we have always believed that as farmers and current custodians of this land we have a responsibility to look after it so that future generations will also be able to enjoy it.
In 2019 we became accredited with Sustainable Winegrowing Australia and Freshcare, across all business operations. Carbon neutral is our next goal. Environmental sustainability is an ongoing process but one we are very committed to.
People who know me will say that I can be opinionated, and that’s true. I am passionate about a range of things and as such spend a lot of time advocating for our wine industry. As head of the Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association I played a leading role in the vineyard areas fight against coal seam gas mining and inappropriate land use management. Saving the heritage vineyards we have here in the Hunter is my current project. The Hunter Valley is after all, the birthplace of the Australian wine industry.
I am a self-diagnosed introvert and I love spending time in our vineyards, just connecting with our vines. Apart from that I love skiing, riding my Ducati motorbike, travelling, enjoying great wine and food with friends and family. I still surf and I only retired from rugby a few years ago when my body told me it was time. I run every day and enjoy a beer most nights. I have always loved a bit of a punt and have a few racehorses of varying success. We have three kids, young adults now and they all look like coming back after Uni and working in the business. And nothing would make me happier.
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