With the region just coming out of a 10 year drought, Simon Osicka (winemaker) and his partner Alison Philips (an experienced viticulturist) wanted to explore options other than the family’s dry grown vineyard (ie Paul Osicka vineyard). Simon and Alison spent a lot of time visiting different vineyards, tasting fruit and wine before deciding to source the fruit from Colbinabbin Estate Vineyard on the Mount Camel range. The patch they source their fruit from is half way up the hill on the southern side of the vineyard in buckshot gravel.
For Simon, attention to detail can never be too great. Their yields are low and the quality of the fruit high. The fruit is hand pruned, shoot thinned, leaf plucked, crop thinned as required and then hand-picked. The fruit is fermented in small one tonne batches in open top fermenters with a small percentage of whole bunches. This gives Simon ultimate control of the ferments. It spends about 20 days on skins, prior to pressing into French oak, 25% new barriques and hogsheads. The wine is racked twice out of oak and bottled after 12 months. Simon’s aim is to make a complex, expressive style of Heathcote shiraz that has richness of texture without being overbearing.
Simon started winemaking in the 1990’s, and commenced building his knowledge and experience straight away. He returned to the family business in 2010 after holding senior winemaking positions at Houghton, Leasingham and as group red wine maker for Constellation Wines Australia (one of the biggest producers in the country). This was interleaved with vintages in Italy, Canada, Germany, and France. This included harvest at Northern Rhone’s revered shiraz producer Domaine J.L Chave which was established in 1841. Simon is now one of the most respected winemakers of the region, not because of his pedigree, but because the consistent quality and value of the wines he produces under the Paul Osicka brand.
The name Bull Lane comes from the nearest sign post just on a kilometre away from where Simon’s grandfather planted his first vineyard back in the 1950’s in Graytown. Back in the gold rush days there was a population of 30,000, these days it would barely be 100.