Yarra Valley, Australia
Yering Station is a premium winery in the heart of the Yarra Valley, one hour east of Melbourne. Established in 1838 as the first vineyard in Victoria, Yering Station is now one of the most exciting family-owned developments in the wine industry.
In 2004, Yering Station has won the highly coveted International Wine and Spirit Competition Winemaker of the Year award, announced at London's Guildhall late on Wednesday 27 October, 2004.
Yering Station marks the beginning of winemaking in Victoria and was the first vineyard planted in Australia, a landmark in the history and development of the wine industry in Victoria.
In 1837, the Ryrie brothers travelled overland from Monaro in New South Wales with a herd of cattle. They took up a grazing licence of 43,000 acres, an area stretching from Woori Yallock Creek to Olinda Creek, bordered by the Yarra River on the North. They called the property Yering, its Aboriginal name.
In August 1838, they planted their first vines. There were two varieties, black cluster of Hamburg and a white grape called Sweetwater. The first wine was made at Yering in 1845.
William and Donald Ryrie sold Yering Station in 1850. Paul de Castella purchased the property in 1853 and Yering Station took on a new shape, with the establishment of a sizeable vineyard with cuttings imported from France. By 1860, there were 51 acres of vines. The previous year, the winery had been built.
By the early 20th century, wine and vineyards in the Yarra Valley were in decline, as was the case in much of Victoria. The phylloxera epidemic had destroyed many of the vines in Victoria, and although it never reached the Yarra Valley, other factors were at work. The area turned to dairy farming.
Paul de Castella left Yering in 1896. He died in Melbourne in 1903. Yering had been sold in 1896, and was sold again in 1900. It changed hands a number of times after that.
The Rathbone family acquired it in 1996. Since then, the vineyards have been extended, the winery and main building designed by Robert Conti, and a partership made with the champagne house Devaux.
Yering is again a family-owned winery with extensive vineyards, and a deserved reputation for fine wines, hospitality, handsome buildings, and landscaped gardens.
The family company has as its directors Graeme Rathbone, Doug and Ann Rathbone, and Darren Rathbone, who is also one of the winemakers. Matt Rathbone, for whom Matt's Bar is named, also works at Yering Station.
The vineyards are the heart of Yering Station. On them grow the vines that produce the grapes that make our prized wines. We have approximately 272 acres of vineyards over five sites in the Yarra Valley. There are vineyards at Yering Station itself; on Yarra View Road known as Laura Barnes; at Spring Hill, at Yarra Edge, and nearby Muirs. Muirs is the newest vineyard, and was acquired in 1999.
We grow cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, shiraz for red wines, as well as smaller quantities of merlot, cabernet franc, and malbec, some new plantings of the Italian varieties sangiovese and nebbiolo. Chardonnay is the main white wine variety, with some plantings of sauvignon blanc, semillon, marsanne and viognier.
The vineyard manager is John Evans, working closely with owner Graeme Rathbone.
Vineyard manager John Evans grew up in Margaret River, but his home is now the Yarra Valley. "I've always said I've worked in the two premium regions in Australia," he says. What makes them both special? "Long ripening and good soils."
Understanding the microclimates of the Yarra is an important issue. Each of the vineyard sites has its own mini-climate. "Even within vineyards there are microclimates," says John. The important issue is to control cropping levels to optimise flavour. The other factor is one over which he has no control: "All the procedures are based around the weather."
We believe that great wines start in the vineyards, and we know wines produced from vineyards at Yering Station in the 19th century were very special wines. Our aim is to make wines that best express the qualities of the variety and the soil in which they grow.
Our winery is state-of-the art, and highly flexible.
It was first planned in 1996, when the Rathbone family realised that Yering Station should be in charge of its own production, particularly as the vineyard areas were increasing. Winemakers Tom Carson and Darren Rathbone added their input.
Underground cellars were dug into the side of the hill and the big stainless steel tanks that are jacketed for temperature control; other aspects are not easily seen but make winemaking life easier and help to improve the quality of the wines.
Tom Carson joined Yering Station in 1996, and has been an integral part of its growth.
He began learning about wine at home, where there was always wine with dinner. His interest turned professional in 1987 when he began working at a vineyard in the Yarra Valley, planting vines at the Greenpoint vineyards of Domaine Chandon. He has had a great respect for the importance of the vineyard ever since.
He studied Oenology at Roseworthy Agricultural College, and then spent two vintages at Tim Knappstein wines in the Clare Valley where he was involved in the first two vintages of Lenswood Vineyards pinot noir. There was pinot noir, French-style, in Burgundy for the next two vintages.
Back to the Yarra Valley to be assistant winemaker to the legendary James Halliday at Coldstream Hills, then to Yarra Edge, where he was in charge of everything before he joined Yering Station.
His favourite variety is pinot noir.
See Yering Station wines we sell