Anytime is the right time to make wine
It’s the 2023 vintage and Grampians Estate’s Tom Guthrie is pressing his Riesling.
In his 60s, the winemaker has quite a successful business with his line-up of popular wines and bursting cellar door.
The grapes Tom is pressing are some of the oldest Riesling in Victoria, planted in the 1890s.
“Our little part of the world has some really great history and I’m pressing history this morning,” he says with a smile.
Tom hasn’t always been the passionate winemaker making his mark in Great Western, a town affectionately known as the ‘Wine Village’.
He is a fourth-generation sheep farmer. Deciding to take a punt at winemaking was a way of diversifying the family’s income in the early 1990s.
The first Grampians Estate vintage was in 1995, and Tom and his wife Sarah took it to the Grampians Gourmet Weekend, now the Grampians Grape Escape, sharing a stall with another local winery as his offering was so small.
However, Grampians Estate’s offering has grown substantially since then. The winery produces a multitude of varieties from Chardonnay, to Rosé, to the most popular the Rutherford Sparkling Shiraz. Sparkling Shiraz is a signature wine of Great Western, and Grampians Estate’s is up there with the best of them.
Grampians Estate has fast become one of the region’s leading boutique wineries with an impressive list of awards, having won 70 trophies since 2002. Notable awards include Best Shiraz at the 2002 Victorian Wine Show, Best Shiraz at the 2005 National Wine Show and Winestate Magazine’s Best Sparkling for 2010.
For the first decade or so, Tom’s grapes were made into wine by Clayfield Wines, but in 2007 it was brought in house to be made at the Guthrie farm.
“As time went on, I got more and more involved and excited by producing wine,” Tom says.
“Then as the business grew and I just decided to take over the winemaking myself.”
Tom wanted to make sure he had the right skills, enrolled in a wine science degree at 60.
“Seven years later I graduated as the second-oldest winemaker ever,” he says.
Handing over the sheep business to his nephews, Tom is now a full-time winemaker.
As well as the successful wines, Grampians Estate has an incredible cellar door located on the Western Highway as you enter Great Western from the east. The local wines are paired with local produce, creating a spot for locals and tourists alike to sit and enjoy the fruits of Tom’s labour.
It might not be his family’s original plan for Tom, but there is no doubt he is incredibly happy.
“It’s a new career and it’s very exciting,” he says.
“It’s never too late.”