De Bortoli Wines
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Wineries and cellar doors
De Bortoli Wines owns three wineries in three diverse wine growing regions:
- Bilbul near Griffith in the Riverina region of New South Wales
- Near Cessnock in the Hunter Region of New South Wales
- Dixons Creek near Yarra Glen in the Yarra Valley in Victoria
The company has vineyards in the same regions as its wineries, along with the King Valley in Victoria.
The Yarra Valley Winery also boasts a very popular and highly awarded restaurant featuring Northern Italian inspired cuisine. There is now also a cheesemaker & cheese shop onsite at the Yarra Winery.
The winemaking team is overseen by third generation winemaker Darren De Bortoli and his brother-in-law Steve Webber. In the early 1980s Darren De Bortoli created the world acclaimed Noble One Botrytis Semillon. Steve Webber established the company's premium Yarra Valley winery in the early 1990s and is also responsible for overseeing the company's King Valley vineyards and Hunter Valley winery and vineyards.
The winemaking philosophy is that good wine begins in the vineyard, that the winemaker should use minimal handling and interference in the winemaking process and that wine should have a sense of regionality and be an expression of the soil in which it is grown.
Since its release Noble One has been awarded 104 Trophies, 352 Gold medals and 113 International Awards. In 2005 screw cap closures were placed on 50% of the 750ml bottles of 2003 Noble One in a trial that attempted to ensure fruit intensity and freshness for consumers. De Bortoli Wines have kept the 375ml, 50% of the 750ml and all export stock under cork, however in an industry where issues over cork taint keep arising approximately 34% of wines are sealed with some type of synthetic closure.
Noble One was given its name in 1990 as a result of the bilateral agreement between Australia and the European Economic Community in which Australia agreed to phase out the use of European names on wine labels. Previously the wine was known as 'Sauternes' but today it is simply called Noble One.
The fungus botrytis cinerea is responsible for many of the great sweet whites of Europe including Sauternes. Botrytis develops on the grape bunches given the right moist and humid conditions. Botrytis spores leach moisture from the berries causing the fruit to break down, concentrating the sugars and magnifying the flavors to produce a very intense, complex wine. High humidity and moderate temperatures during April/May when the grapes are picked, and the high clay content of the soils creates a microclimate that promotes the development of botrytis in the Riverina.
Grapes for Noble One are grown on De Bortoli's own vineyards and those of a handful of selected growers. The grapes are picked by hand and the juice from each vineyard is fermented separately.The high sugar level presents a challenge during processing as the yeast struggles to ferment the juice, making fermentation a long drawn out process. The fermentation has to be closely monitored because at these sugar levels acetic acid is produced by the yeast. Acedtic acid adds complexity but it can spoil the wine if allowed to become too high. Extreme care also has to be taken to ensure the wine does not oxidise.
During Darren De Bortoli's years at Roseworthy Agricultural College, Australia's premier winemaking institute, a lot of development work was being done on Botrytis wine styles. While there, De Bortoli decided to make a botrytis affected wine of his own. At that time (1982) there was a surplus of Semillon grapes, a thin skinned, tight bunched varietal particularly susceptible to extensive, uniform botrytis infection. Growers were delighted to be able to sell their "rotten" grapes.
The resulting wine went on to win numerous awards including Best Botrytis Wine at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 1984. Subsequent vintages were also largely successful. The exception was 1989 when heavy rains totally destroyed the crop.
As well as making Botrytis Semillon, De Bortoli Wines experimented with other botrytis styles including Spätlese, Auslese and Beerenauslese with Riesling and Gewürztraminer. In addition a Botrytis Pedro Ximinez and a Dry Botrytis Semillon were produced.
De Bortoli Wines was established in 1928 by Vittorio & Giuseppina De Bortoli and rapidly expanded under the direction of their son, the late Deen De Bortoli. Today the company is in the hands of the third generation. The family history is documented in a book called Celebrazione! launched in 2003 to celebrate De Bortoli Wines' 75th Anniversary.
Darren De Bortoli (born 1960) is currently the Managing Director of De Bortoli Wines Pty Limited. He was born in 1960 and then studied winemaking at Roseworthy College in South Australia, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Oenology, in 1982. He is a former winemaker, for this family business, established in 1928 by his grandfather Vittorio De Bortoli. Darren is well known for his award winning Botrytis Semillon, Noble One. At the age of 33, Darren was appointed Managing Director, which is the position he maintains today. He is also a company director for this family organisation.
Darren has helped the De Bortoli family achieve its position of Australia’s 6th largest wine company, with an annual turnover of $170 million. He was also featured in the 2002 episode of the ABC's Dynasties television series titled "The De Bortolis Of Griffith" which tracked the growth over three generations of the family business from humble Italian immigrants into one of Australia's largest family wine companies.
He still lives with his family in Bilbul, New South Wales, the village where De Bortoli Wines was established and still home to its head office and to one of its wineries.
Deen De Bortoli (born 1936) was the late Chairman of De Bortoli Wines Pty Limited. He was born in 1936, and at age 15 he left school to help Vittorio and Giuseppina, his parents run the family business. Deen was largely self-taught, but managed to build his fathers businesses to one of Australia's top 6 wine companies . He married Emeri De Bortoli in 1958, and lived in Bilbul, New South Wales, his whole life. They had four children who all work for the company today. Deen also featured in the 2002 episode of the ABC's Dynasties television series titled "The De Bortolis Of Griffith" about rise of the business founded by his parents into one of Australia's largest family wine companies.
His oldest son Darren De Bortoli, is currently Managing director, daughter Leanne Webber née De Bortoli, manages the Yarra and King Valley wineries with her husband Stephen Webber. Victor De Bortoli is the export manager and Kevin De Bortoli is the vineyards manager.
First Families of Wine
- The Graham Gregory Award for Services to the NSW Wine Industry, in 1995 .
- The Inaugural Golden Plate Award for his contribution to the wine industry in the Riverina.
- The Jimmy Watson Award for 1996 Yarra Valley Golf Station Reserve Shiraz, in 1997 .
- Past President of the MIA Winemakers Association .
Stephen Webber born in 1965, is currently the Yarra and King Valley co-manager with his wife Leanne Webber née De Bortoli (granddaughter of the companies founder Vittorio De Bortoli). He is also the Chief Winemaker, for the Yarra Valley Winery of the De Bortoli family business, established in 1928. Steve is well known for his award of 'Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller WINE' in 2007 . Steve also maintains the position as a company director.
Since 1989, when Steve married Leanne and moved to the Yarra Valley, he has helped build a successful winery. They also built a restaurant and cellar door to launch the first De Bortoli Yarra Valley brand.
Steve lives in the Yarra Valley with his wife Leanne and their children.
- Australian Wine Research Institute board member 
- Chairman of Judges Melbourne Wine Show  
- 2007 Winemaker of the Year by GourmetTraveller WINE 
Environment and technology
As a family owned company, De Bortoli Wines has often taken a longer term view of the world than a traditional corporate equivalent.
Examples include the consideration of concepts such as data sovereignty and commitment to open standards based computing, leading to the organisation standardising on the OpenDocument Format for office productivity files though the use of OpenOffice.org 2.0. Other notable technology rollouts include TYPO3 for both the Internet site & corporate intranet, Pentaho for business intelligence, dotProject for collaborative project management, Fedora Directory Server with SAMBA 3 for authentication & file serving, and the rollout of Linux clients on the desktop.
Examples of De Bortoli Wines' long term view of environmental sustainability include:
- Participating in the Greenhouse Challenge and Packaging Covenant and the Australian Wine Industry Environmental Stewardship program.
- Adopting an integrated Pest Management System in the vineyard minimising the use of chemical sprays.
- Purchasing easy to clean winery equipment to minimise water usage, for example dry cake discharge filters and centrifuges.
- Adopting recycling practices at all sites e.g. composting of winery skins and stalks, restaurant compostables, separation of bottles, cardboard, cork and plastic.
- Removing all Sodium based products from the Griffith site because of concerns relating to salinity in the environment.
- "Noble One 25th Vintage Anniversary".
- Simon Evans, The Australian Financial Review, Tuesday 18 August 2009, Page 61
- Chris Snow, Decanter Magazine, 17 August 2009, Top Australian wineries team up to push super-premium wines