Red Hill elegance interviews
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Michael Kyberd, Winemaker, at Red Hill Estate, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Michael Kyberd, Winemaker, at Red Hill Estate, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria [©Red Hill Estate]

Red Hill Estate, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria [©]

Michael Kyberd has been winemaker for Red Hill Estate over eight vintages and has overseen some major transitions in the product range. He entered winemaking as a seasoned marketer, which has helped him understand what it is that people want to drink. He started as assistant winemaker to Jenny Bright at Red Hill Estate in 1998, taking over as senior winemaker when she left in 1999.

"Red Hill Estate was planted in 1989 by a chap called Sir Peter Derham, who bought this property in 1979 to retire. He turned out to be a rather more successful Vigneron than retiree, so we've been going now for about 15 years, and we now have another large vineyard in the northern part of the Peninsula. We also purchase fruit from about six other growers. That enables us to consistently blend to a style," he says.

Michael believes the Peninsula is one of the great regions in the world to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. "We are very lucky that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are so versatile that we can use them in sparkling wines as well. Red Hill Estate produces far more sparkling wine than anyone else does on the Mornington Peninsula, and is getting quite successful at it too.

"There are two major soil types on the Peninsula. Where we are here [at Red Hill Estate] in the really elevated sites, it's deep rich red volcanic loam, in fact it's probably more perfect for growing asparagus than vines. They tend to grow lots of leaves and very little fruit, so we have to be very careful to manage all that vigour. Down the hill where there's less rain, the soils are shallower and more sandy, we actually don't have to contain the vigour quite so much, and that's really fantastic having that difference, because it gives us that range of options in the blending room.

Michael's two favourite words to describe Red Hill Estate wines are elegance and finesse. "I hope my wife thinks that they apply to me as well," he says. "They are basically wines that are mid-bodied, they have high levels of natural acidity, which means they are fantastic with food. They also have great flavour length. So they are complex wines without being your tradition big gutsy Aussie style of wine, more modern really.

"This spot is quite simply one of the most beautiful vineyard views anywhere in the world, and it’s a little bit like Ayers Rock looking over the water here, the colour basically changes morning through afternoon and into the evening. It’s different every day; it’s really one of the most beautiful offices anyone could have to work in," he says.

"A famous French winemaker once said “I’m in the business of manufacturing pleasure”, and that’s exactly what I’m in the business of, too."


  • Mornington Peninsula (VIC)

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