MOUNT Stapylton Wines has turned 16, and owner Howard Staehr said he couldn’t be happier with the progression.
Mr Staehr grew up on a farm at Laharum and went to school in Horsham.
He said when he finished his education he moved to Melbourne to play football for Essendon and study a business degree at RMIT University.
Mr Staehr bought the Goonwinnow Homestead at Laharum, next to his family’s property, in 1987.
He said he bought the homestead because he simply wanted a property in Laharum.
“I wanted to have a property up there and my brother wanted a bit of extra land for farming so we bought that,” he said.
Mr Staehr said he didn’t expect the homestead would become a vineyard.
“It was only after my time in Melbourne that I went to a lot of wine dinners and started to appreciate premium wine,” he said.
“I also read in a French book one of the best areas to grow shiraz was in the Grampians. Combining those two things, I decided it would be a great challenge for me to try and make one of the best shiraz wines in the world.”
The vineyard was planted in 2002. Mr Staehr acquired the services of Grampians winemaker Don McRae, who received a wine science degree from Charles Sturt University in New South Wales and had more than 30 years of experience in the wine industry.
Mr Staehr said the only real troubles the vineyard had experienced had occurred in the first couple of years.
“We were planting in the middle of a 16-year drought, things were pretty dry and we lost about 300 vines in the first year. I had to replace those,” he said.
“But the watering drip system we had on the vineyard, within those first two years, got it properly established.”
Mr Staehr completes the viticulture at Mount Stapylton Wines and Mr McRae makes the wine.
“He’s a perfectionist in that area and I could only be successful with having such a great wine maker,” he said.
Mr Staehr said the location of the vineyard, on the west side of the Grampians, resulted in bigger fruit flavors in the shiraz.
Mr Staehr said Mount Stapylton Wines has won more than 20 international awards.
“Several Masters of Wine have reviewed our wines and have given very positive comments. One of the ex heads of Masters of Wine said, worldwide, it was one of the best shiraz wines he had ever had,” he said.
Mr Staehr said United Kingdom wine writer Anthony Rose could only nominate five wines to the Canter Wine magazine for the top 50 must buy wines for 2016.
“He nominated our shiraz for that. It was a great accolade for one of the best UK wine writers to nominate us,” he said.