My wife Edwina is a fourth generation Western Australian. Her ancestors, the Egerton-Warburton’s, migrated from England and settled Frankland River in the mid 1800’s. Not just settlement pioneers, they planted the first vines on the banks of the river in 1875.
Unlike Edwina, I’m a first generation Australian. At school, whilst other kids had meat pies and vegemite sandwiches for lunch, I had roasted pepper sandwiches and homemade sausages. With my uncles and aunts pressing grapes on their farms and in their backyards, and my own family at one time having a small vineyard, it’s clear where my interest in wine originated. We met in 1994, the same year I graduated from horticulture. As I was starting my work in wine, we were also embarking on our life journey.
During my career, I've been head winemaker at Houghton and a traveling consultant. I designed vineyards and wineries, and work took me overseas to New Zealand, USA, France, Italy and South Africa.
Edwina and I purchased our first parcel of land in Frankland River in 2004 with dreams of planting our own vineyard. It was a small parcel that had originally been part of a large, historic land holding called Riversdale. A few years later we had the opportunity to buy the neighbouring vineyard, and acres of prime river and vineyard country. We didn’t hesitate as we knew its potential.
Cherubino Wines began in our spare room in 2005 with the release of one wine. A lot has happened since. The range has grown, and along the way, we’ve been honoured to be listed as Winery Of The Year by respected wine critics such as James Halliday and Matt Skinner.
About our wine ranges:
Cherubino: The sum of our experiences and our best performing parcels of vineyard are expressed in our Cherubino range. It’s the best of what we do, from Margaret River to Pemberton, to the regions of the Great Southern. Each bunch is carefully selected by hand, with attention to detail taken at every step of the winemaking journey to best reflect the expression of varietal, vintage, and terroir. They are our signature collection; the sign of our best work.
The Yard: Channybearup, Bimbimbi, Riversdale, Justin, Acacia - within each of these vineyards is The Yard: the place where we break ground in single vineyard wines. The wines made here offer a first look into the future of the Cherubino tier range.
The magic of wine is its ability to express provenance. This is why, for us, making wine means growing grapes. It’s much harder to improve the vineyard than it is to employ a change in winemaking technique. From the big things like travelling the world in the hunt for grape clones which we believe would be well suited to our vineyard sites, to the little things like dropping the height of the cane from 1.2m to 400mm, every step counts.
‘Laissez-Faire’ means ‘let it be’, reflecting a hands off approach.
Whilst we’ve learnt from organics, bio-dynamics and natural wine practices, we’re not dictated by one school of thought. We don’t subscribe to dogma. You could call them natural wines, but we like to think of them as “post natural wines”. We believe in healthy and sustainable vineyard practices, and a winemaking transparency with as little as possible between the vine and finished wine. Whereas a lot of wines presented as “natural” can be sourced from chemically cultivated vines without accountability, we grow all our own grapes. Our Grenache and Syrah vines are dry grown. And whilst copper is allowed in organic viticulture, we use minimal copper treatments.
In our Laissez-Faire winemaking, there’s no added tannin, or acid, or animal fining products. There is zero sulfur used throughout the winemaking, and only a minimal amount at bottling. We’re using alternate varieties and blends to make naturally balanced wines. From vine to bottle, the wine takes its course, hands free.
Uovo: I remember I was sitting around a table with lots of winemakers and wine people in the late 90’s, maybe 2000, when someone had brought this new producer Gravner from Italy. No one liked it. It was undrinkable, it was an insult to winemaking, it had no elegance, etc. I didn’t say much other than the fact that I did like it. I liked it a lot. And when I went home, it was one of those wines that I continued to think about days after drinking it.
It was a time in Australia when crafting wines in the cellar was the definition of a good winemaker… and yet this was a wine that has the least amount of human intervention possible and it was this purity and honesty in the wine that I found infectious. That is what I wanted to do with Uovo… not make orange wine, not “natural” wine, but use the least amount of human intervention possible in the cellar and see what would happen.