Almost three years ago now, we decided, as a family, to move to country Victoria. Our 10-acre vineyard sits upon a beautiful 40-acre farm and we feel truly blessed to live and work in such a gorgeous setting. We dove headfirst into this adventure with a plan to honour nature and grow amazing grapes.
It took years though to find the right vineyard.
Our love of cool climate wines brought us to the Alpines, but even then, the mean daily temperature, soil composition and amount of rainfall had to be just right. After a few false starts, we happened upon gold in Everton Upper. Weathercraft Wine, is the coming together of a dream we both had to make great wine sustainably, from vines grown mostly via biological means and we are so excited to be able to share our journey with you.
Nestled in the foothills of the Victorian High Country, only minutes from Beechworth, and metres beyond the Golden Ball bridge, you will discover Weathercraft Wine. The original farm was first settled in the 1870s by a local grazier and was known as "The Big Valley". Three generations of grazier later, a renowned winemaker recognised something unique and purchased a portion of the land. The winemaker's vision was realised in 1998 when he planted the beginnings of a super premium, single vineyard estate. Until 2017, fruit from the vineyard was only ever sold to high-end wineries for use in some superb wines. However, a 'changing of the guard' saw us making our own wine from the 2017 vintage and establishing the Weathercraft label.
Beechworth is tiny ... (however) ... the synergy
between winemakers, the climate and the
variety, is without exaggeration, awesome.
Every hectare produces liquid gold.
Viticulturist and Winemaker
Childhood experiences can be powerful influences on a person, and in Raquel Jones’ case, it was a childhood spent in East Gippsland helping her father grow fruit and vegetables that has had a profound effect.
That experience grounded the first of many in the agricultural arena. Raquel has since completed her horticultural and viticultural studies, before pivoting to include further tertiary study in wine making. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Wine Science at the highly awarded Charles Sturt University, which is noted for its partnership with the wine industry in joint pursuit of excellence for Australian wines and winemakers.
Raquel has come to the field of wine and Weathercraft as a second career, having spent a decade as a successful business owner working in Property Law within the Melbourne CBD before returning to her true passions of wine, cooking and science. The perfect expression of those passions was found in pursuing the dream to make hand-crafted, beautiful wines by co-founding Weathercraft. The final products show Raquel's appreciation for time-honoured European methods of bespoke wine making, made with respect for terroir and a focus on quality.
Raquel has Spanish heritage which drives her to put the Beechworth region further on the map as the premier tempranillo grape region in the country. She pairs her love of food and wine with her hobbies of travel and cooking.
While Raquel attributes her love of food and wine to her Spanish heritage, we think it’s the abundance of fresh produce and Beechworth’s natural beauty that inspires her - and led to the creation of her local travel blog Beechworth & Beyond.
Hugh Jones is one of those rare individuals who has fulfilled a substantial life goal that he has held for many years. In his case, it was the desire to one day plant, grow and bottle Australian chardonnay and shiraz from scratch.
As a well-known businessman in the property industry, Hugh is no stranger to building enterprises from the ground up. Over 25 years, he was responsible for founding or co-founding multiple successful property businesses.
Alongside that professional career, Hugh developed a passion for an outdoor lifestyle, travel and of course wine.
Now, the lessons learned from business building and the passions fostered over decades have culminated in the co-founding of Weathercraft. Hugh’s focus on creating fantastic customer experiences and top quality products are reflected throughout the wines and ethos of Weathercraft, including the diligent and highly experienced team he and Raquel have assembled to bring the product to wine lovers locally and internationally.
Away from work Hugh loves spending time with his daughter, taking his boat out fishing and club motorsport, participating in annual charity race days with great enthusiasm.
Winemaking Advisor and Mentor
As a scholar of wine, Mark O’Callaghan has committed decades of his professional life to pursuing his passion for high quality wine and wine making. His learning experiences have culminated in his role as Oenology Advisor and Mentor at Weathercraft.
Prior to his time advising Weathercraft, Mark spent 14 years working with the team at Accolade Wines (formerly BRL Hardy). He has also held the position of Senior Winemaker and Winery Manager for a period of eight years at Yarra Burn.
Mark is well-known in the wine community for his role as a judge at numerous wine shows, and his advocacy for local wines. He is also well-regarded as a trusted contact in Australia for wine businesses across the globe, with his industry contacts spread as far as England and China, both important and growing markets for Australian wine.
Mark embodies the values of Weathercraft with his commitment to developing a brand that is curious, and embodies the “full sensory and intellectual experience” that represents what he loves about working with wine and wineries every day.
Viticultural Advisor and Mentor
While Mark Walpole acts as Viticultural Advisor and Mentor at Weathercraft, the monikers entrepreneur, experimenter and innovator could equally apply. Mark graduated from an agricultural college in Victoria during the 1980s before being hired by one of Australia’s best-known wine labels, Brown Brothers.
His time as Chief Viticulturist with Brown Brothers coincided with a period of expansion and experimentation, as Australian wines were made known to the world and the new vineyards and wine production to support this vibrant industry took flight.
In conjunction with his professional life, Mark also indulged his personal passion for wine and wine making by purchasing and planting a vineyard in country Victoria. Showcasing his independent and curious streak, Mark theorised that there were better grapes for the land his farm was on than the ones commonly available. That seed of an idea took hold, and Mark’s vineyard was the first to plant tempranillo and verdelho vines in Victoria.
That ethos of allowing the wines to be shaped by the land, and the land to shape wine, has found a strong fit at Weathercraft. Mark’s personal experience is also invaluable, as is his insight into what it takes to produce true quality wines in Victoria, with his vineyard producing a chardonnay regarded to be one of the finest in the region.
Mark has also been awarded Australian Perpetual Viticulturalist of the Year in 2017, and owns the prominent Fighting Gully Road label, which are both testament to his deep roots and passion for the local winemaking.
While some Vineyard Managers might say that being a careful steward of the land is important to them, for Alastair Bartsh, it’s much more personal.
That’s because the region where the Weathercraft vines are planted is also the region where Alastair was born and raised. A Beechworth boy, born and raised, Alastair relocated to north eastern New South Wales for a decade working on a lily farm there, before returning to his roots and family in Victoria.
His family is well-known in Beechworth, having been prominent members of the local community for generations. His passion for working among some of the most productive vines in the nation and being outdoors has meant that he has found a natural fit with Weathercraft.
His passions are reflected in his interests away from work, with time spent fishing and camping in the surrounding wilderness with family and friends being his preferred way of recharging.