On Monday, Brokenwood Wines Chief Winemaker and Managing Director Iain Riggs was named as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his significant service to oenology as a Winemaker, to the development of the Australian wine industry, and to the promotion of the Hunter Valley region.
After 47 vintages, including 36 with Brokenwood Wines, Iain has had a wide and varied career in winemaking, judging, mentoring, educating, and as a thought pioneer in Australian wine.
At a time of great development for the Brokenwood Wines brand, with a highly anticipated new Cellar Door, tasting and dining complex due to open in December, it is full steam ahead for Iain and his team, with recognition like this as a surprising cherry on top.
“I’m incredibly honoured to receive such a recognition, although it feels somewhat odd for doing a job that I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to each day. Mentoring and giving back to the industry gives me great enjoyment, I’m just glad to be part of it” says Iain.
Born in Burra, South Australia, Iain took an early interest in winemaking. He studied at Roseworthy College between 1972 and 1975, followed by stints at both Bleasdale and Hazelmere in McLaren Vale. It was here that sparked his interest in varietal blending, soon becoming a pioneer of the now famous combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. At Hazelmere, the ambitious winemaker focused on white wines, and was crowned McLaren Vale Bushing King in 1982 with his multi trophy winning Chardonnay.
Iain’s strong interest in ‘improving the breed’ of Australian wine has seen him in many judging and chair roles. Some of his past highlights include Chairman of the Hunter Valley Wine Show, having taken over from Len Evans in 2002. Iain was honoured with the naming of the Iain Riggs Wine of Provenance Trophy. In 1990, starting as an Associate Judge with the Sydney Royal Wine Show, Iain quickly worked his way up to Chairman of Judges, a role that he held for six years. The Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales awarded Iain with their 2014 Contributors Award for Services to the RAS.
Iain was an inaugural Board member of the Winemakers Federation of Australia serving from 1989 to 1995, its Vice President and President of the Australian Winemakers Forum as well as Chair of the Technical Sub-committee for many years. Iain continued as Deputy Chair of the Domestic Wine Promotion of Wine Australia until the early 2000’s. The Hunter Valley Legends and Wine Awards was an initiative of Wine Hunter Marketing chaired by Iain until WHM merged with Hunter Valley Vineyard Association, Iain continued as Chair of the awards until he stepped down in 2016. Iain is also immediate past Chairman of the Wine Show of Western Australia.
In 2003, Iain was awarded the Graham Gregory Award for outstanding service to the NSW wine industry, and at the 2013 Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year Awards honoured Iain with the Len Evans Award for Leadership. In late 2016, the Australian Women in Wine Awards recognised Iain and Brokenwood Wines as the Workplace Champion of Change for a long history of promoting women within the workplace.
Today, Iain is Chairman of Trustees of the Len Evans Foundation that conducts the prestigious week-long Len Evans Tutorial, and current Chairman of the Shanghai International Wine Challenge.
My first vintage at Brokenwood in 1983 saw the introduction of our Single Vineyard wines, starting with the Graveyard Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and a bottling of Hermitage. The latter being 100% from the Graveyard Vineyard but we didn’t label as such. It was however labelled Graveyard Vineyard from 1984.
Iain Leslie Riggs - First vintage,1983.
Of the 35 vintages since, we have declassified 6 vintages. As the only Hunter Valley red wine on the Langton’s Classification of Australian wine (and at the highest rating – Exceptional) our goal is to maintain the Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz as one of Australia’s very best.
After a difficult 2015 vintage the decision to declassify was easy but we felt with strict barrel selection there would be a small amount of 2016 Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz. At the time of writing, the wine has been in bottle for approximately 9 months and after retasting and considerable discussion, we again feel that the superb lineage we’ve built since 1983 would be compromised if we released it. Especially as the next release, now the 2017, will become the 30th vintage. Quality is paramount and the 2017 is an outstanding Hunter Valley Shiraz that will stand comfortably alongside the multi-award winning 2014 Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz.
So what becomes of the 2016 wine?
The 1968 plantings of the Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz comprise of 4 blocks, one of which is known as “7 Acre” and a label we have previously used for a Shiraz from this vineyard. We typically release the Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz at the end of May, so this year in its place will be the 2016 7 Acre Shiraz. Additionally we will be releasing the 2016 Tallawanta Vineyard Shiraz. This hallowed and heritage-listed vineyard is 98 years old and has produced some of the finest wines in the Hunter Valley; Brokenwood became the “honoured custodian” in 2014.
Both wines are available for pre-order, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We trust you will enjoy the wines to be released this year, and we look forward to seeing you at our wine club events.
Iain Leslie Riggs
Chief Winemaker and Managing Director
Brokenwood Wines cleaned up at the National Wine Show of Australia Awards held in Canberra this November. The 2016 Indigo Vineyard Chardonnay won Best Chardonnay and Best White Wine of Show.
This well-balanced drop hails from Beechworth, located near the foothills of the Victorian Alps. Careful winemaking and a very hands-off approach has resulted in a perfect green tinted yellow colour. An excellent complexity on the nose and palate after pressing whole bunches and a wild ferment. Nutty elements are evident with a distinctive Beechworth ‘oat meal’ lift. This wine has low ‘struck match’ character and long grapefruit flavours with a tropical acidity. A perfect example of Australian Chardonnay.
The 2015 vintage is available now, click here to purchase and stay tuned for the 2016 release next year.
The next big Hunter Valley development is officially underway. Brokenwood Wines have broken ground on their highly anticipated Cellar Door complex, due to open in late 2018.
Along with the aim of boosting business, the new space will also bring more people to the Hunter region and increase local jobs.
Chief Winemaker and Managing Director, Iain Riggs said, “This marks a significant moment in Brokenwood’s history. Our current Cellar Door was built in the 70’s so this new venture means a lot to us, but most importantly it will allow for more fun and exciting wine experiences for our dedicated customers”.
Innovative architecture and design duo, Eduardo and Maria Villa from Sydney’s Villa & Villa were brought on board to create a “Home in the Hunter” for Brokenwood’s wine club members and the Hunter Valley’s growing tourism. Integrated Project Group will manage the construction.
The building will feature a mixed palette of natural materials and will house a range of flexible spaces, all themed around the enjoyment of great wine.
Gone is the traditional long central bar, instead, Brokenwood has opted for customer-focused wine pods. Guests can relax by a fire with a rare drop thanks to an Enomatic wine dispenser that will allow previously not-for-tasting and museum wines to be available.
Brokenwood will also feature a selection of wine on tap, which they have been successfully trialling in bars around the country.
General Manager, Geoff Krieger said, “Our entertainment terrace will have a revolving calendar of events, music, pop-up guest chefs and food trucks. Picnic packs will be available for parents to relax on the front lawn while kids play or explore our on-site veggie patch.”
An impressive wine museum will include floor to ceiling glass overlooking the working barrel shed and private dining rooms will be available for hire.
In a nod to Brokenwood legends past, a lookout and education space has been dedicated to long standing Vineyard Manager, the late Keith Barry (KB).
An announcement will soon be made on the appointment of a Chef, but fresh and local produce will dominate the seasonal menu in both the café and restaurant.
The current Brokenwood Wines Cellar Door will remain open throughout construction.
Brokenwood was founded as a hobby venture in 1970 by three Sydney based Lawyers, James Halliday and John Beeston who both attended the breaking ground event, and the late Tony Albert. The 2018 vintage will mark 36 years with Iain Riggs at the helm.
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