The New Bannockburn
Bannockburn Vineyards is a truly epic limestone-laced site, founded in 1974 by Stuart Hooper, and now run by his two daughters. With some of the first pinot plantings in Australia, Bannockburn pioneered a region that we now look to for great Australian pinot noir. It’s hard to mistake Geelong pinot in a blind tasting or to pass over Bannockburn on a wine list - if you ever see a museum release or magnum, jump on it.
Matt Holmes has been making the wines here since 2015, and we visited him in the peaceful Bannockburn vineyard on a crisp Autumn day, to better understand his story and that of the revered brand. Holmes is building on the legacy created by previous winemakers Gary Farr and Michael Glover - both famous in their own right. 30 years since he started, Farr handed the reins over to Glover, who pushed boundaries with his daring winemaking. Now Matt Holmes has the honour of creating the glistening whites and savoury reds of Bannockburn, to grace the tables of the best restaurants in Australia.
A talented Sydney-bred winemaker, Holmes’ first direct experience with the Moorabool Valley winery was actually as intern winemaker in 2005. He then spent a decade working in some of the North America’s best cellars before being inexorably drawn back to Bannockburn. Holmes is a thoughtful type, armed with 25-odd vintages of experience, and his surfboard. From his empathy with the history of the Geelong wine growing region to the way he talks about the long-established team, it’s plain to see the care with which he chooses his words and actions.
Equal amounts of thought and care evidently guide Matt’s winemaking approach. He works closely with vineyard manager Lucas Grigsby to produce wines that truly reflect this special place. He’s hands-off but watches like a hawk, with precise attention to detail and an understanding that he’s working with one of Australia’s truly brilliant sites. Releasing wines only when they’re ready, we’re now seeing Matt’s first single vineyard red releases from 2015 and we’re delighted - but not surprised - at the their calibre.