Meadowbank | Derwent Valley
Set in the hills of Derwent Valley, Tasmania - Meadowbank produces a phenomenal range of wines. Meadowbank is a 2nd generation winemaking estate, and now collaborates with resident artist/scientist Winemaker, Peter Dredge to produce bottled poetry!
We have been in touch with the Winemaker at Meadowbank - Peter Dredge, and the custodian of the family legacy, Mardi Ellis to get a better idea of who Meadowbank are and get some insight into one of Australia's most celebrated wineries. We get discuss the winemaking process and get a little bit esoteric and discuss time travel and hypothetical dinners with historical figures!
What are the origins of Meadowbank, how did it all begin?
Mardi Ellis: Dad (Gerald Ellis) purchased Meadowbank back in 1976 as a 5000 Hectare sheep grazing property.
Through a mix of intuition and stubbornness – and the need to diversify the farm business due to crashing wool prices! - Dad started planting grapes back when they said you couldn’t (or shouldn’t) in Tasmania.
It turned out that he was pretty lucky with his site selection, as over forty years later the vineyard is now regarded as a Tasmanian pioneer and iconic grower of wine.
What makes Meadowbank wine special?
Mardi Ellis: If we step back, it is all about the Meadowbank site. Hidden at the end of a winding dirt road, high in the Derwent Valley, where the dance between warm days and cool nights plays out to provide an elegant, almost ethereal, balance (between ripeness and freshness).
That said, a site is only a potential site until someone has the intuition and drive to farm with it. Dad’s smarts and persistence back in the day, to work with the land and climate, and his pragmatic philosophy that flows through of generally letting the land (and animals and plants) find their happy place, has obviously shaped who we are.
And, of course, the final part of the story is Pete (Dredge), our incredible winemaker; and the experience and winemaking perspective that he brings to the family and wines. Such a fantastic guy - part artist, part scientist, complete legend. That classic Dredge funk factor doesn’t hurt either.
What's your favourite part of the winemaking process - on the flipside what do you find tedious?
Peter Dredge: Favourite part is nailing the picking window. When the grapes are so tasty you get a belly ache from eating them in the field, then rally the troops to get them off the vine just before it gets too hot or too ripe or it starts raining. Fun, reassuring when you get it right and oh so satisfying.
The tedious part is 85%-90% of the winemaking process, which is cleaning.
What's the most memorable vintage you've worked on and why?
Peter Dredge: 2017 vintage. The best I’ve seen in Tasmania in my 11 vintages. Cool, dry and effortless. Effortless, as in, not much to do in the winery but let the fruit do the talking.
Someone invents a time machine and you can crack a bottle open with any historical person - who is it, what are you drinking and why?
Mardi Ellis: Young William Ellis, an ancestor that arrived in Tasmania courtesy of The King back in 1827. He spent quite some time in trouble with the law of the day for publicly enjoying a drink and a dance. I’d love to show him that his spirit is alive and well and fully embraced today at Meadowbank. Probably with bottles of sparkling and Chardonnay on hand.
What's your pick of the Meadowbank range (and the best meal to pair with it)?
Mardi Ellis: Oooo, that’s a hard one, like choosing between your children! I can’t go past our Chardonnay. It sings ‘Tasmania’ and would pair it with some beautiful, fresh Tasmanian scallops, cooked in butter and lemon. Delicious!
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