In 2001 Rosanne and Richie Condie established their first six acre shiraz vineyard in Lewis Road, fifteen kilometres north of Heathcote. They have subsequently added five acres of sangiovese and two acres of viognier at the same location. In 2010 they purchased a four acre vineyard that had been planted in 1990, previously known as the Van Cordinaire vineyard. It is five kilometres south west of Heathcote, on Wild Duck Creek, where they have established their winery and cellar door.
Richie worked as a corporate risk manager for a multinational company after completing a Bachelor of Commerce from RMIT. He recently completed several viticulture and winemaking courses, and is currently undertaking a Dookie College Diploma of Wine Making at Goulburn Ovens TAFE.
Rosanne is an audiologist with a Bachelor of Science and a Post Graduate Diploma in Audiology from the University of Melbourne. Rosanne’s love of good food, wine, and family has been influenced by her Italian heritage and culture. Her parents are often found tending the vegetable garden and helping in the vineyards.
The early Condie wines were contracted out, most recently to Flynns Wines, where Richie worked with Greg Flynn as a cellar hand for two vintages. Their long term goal was to make their own wines with fruit sourced from their two vineyards, which “provides a combination of soils and terroirs, giving complexity through diversity,” says Richie. They now manage the entire process from the vineyard to the bottle.
Richie and Rosanne maintain their vineyards using organic techniques. The vines are hand pruned, the fruit is handpicked, hand plunged and basket pressed. The wines are hand made using traditional techniques of open fermentation. As Richie explains, “there’s a piece of us in every wine… quite literally.
“I grew up in a rural area. My parents had a sheep farm near Geelong. Wine was a part of evening meals. Rosanne’s Italian parents have a great love of food and family, so wine has always been a feature of our family gatherings. For me it’s a natural progression to want to grow grapes and make my own wine. Our flagship wine is The Gwen Shiraz, named after my late mother. We remember her every time we talk about the wine.”
Rosanne shares Richie’s love of shiraz. “I love the lusciousness combined with the fine tannins of Heathcote wine,” she says. “The proximity of Heathcote to Melbourne was also attractive in selecting the place to set up our wine business.”
Their philosophy is simple. ‘‘We use the best quality inputs, the best variety for each area, the best fruit, and have limited interventions in the winemaking. We use the best oak and allow the regional and varietal characteristics to shine through.”
Their advice to those considering a move into wine production is based on their own experience and is very practical. “Go and work in a small vineyard and winery for at least one year before you start out for yourself. You need to understand how much hard, physical work is involved in planting a vineyard, pruning, picking, plunging, making the wine, and then selling it. While it is hard work, it is most satisfying,” says Richie.
“The reward for all the hard work is the reaction of people when you put a bottle on the table, or when you see someone order your wine at a restaurant. That’s when I quietly say to myself, ‘I created that wine,’ and that’s a most satisfying feeling.”
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