Steely resolve in the Yarra

Simon Steele (pictured above) has left Brokenwood’s senior winemaking job to head south to Medhurst (tastings) in the Yarra Valley, where he replaces Matt Steel. By complete coincidence, the ‘second label’ of Medhurst is Steel’s Hill – the name of the hill behind the winery.

Stepping up to replace Simon Steele is Brokenwood’s 2IC, Stuart Hordern, who has worked at Brokenwood (tastings) since 2009. Hordern is a member of a well-known Hunter Valley winemaking family. He has big shoes to fill: Simon Steele has produced “an outstanding portfolio of wines” in his three vintages at Brokenwood, according to chief winemaker and managing director Iain Riggs, and no doubt they’re sorry to see him go. But Brokenwood is known to be fully confident in Stuart Hordern being promoted as senior winemaker, and will be going shopping for an assistant winemaker after vintage.

Matt Steel, who was Medhurst’s inaugural winemaker, has gone to California to work for Gallo.

Winery CEOs are in dread around the end of the year that their winemaker will suddenly resign, leaving no time to employ a replacement in time for the impending vintage – which commences any time between January and March, depending on the part of the country.

At Boynton’s Feathertop winery (tastings) near Bright, one-vintage winemaker David Darlow resigned a couple of weeks ago. Owner Kel Boynton will make the 2015 vintage with the help of his existing staff.

It’s the time of the year when proprietors are probably wishing they could keep their winemakers locked up at home, so no competitors can make them an offer. 

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