TIM MORTIMER: His first winemaking experience was as a cellarhand at the Kaiser Stuhl winery at Waikerie in the SA Riverland, prior to attending Roseworthy Agricultural College. The Degree in Oenology at Roseworthy College was completed in 1984, encompassing tours of Victorian and New South Wales wine regions, and a vintage at Brown Brothers in north-east Victoria.
The 1985 vintage commenced with one month at the Seppelts Great Western winery in Victoria, followed by a month at the Grosset winery in the Clare Valley, and followed with Stephen Hickinbotham at the Anakie vineyard near Geelong, Victoria. The contrasting Roseworthy and Bordeaux approaches of Grosset and Hickinbotham was a mind-opening experience.
An overseas trip targeting USA and France, resulted in a vintage in Los Carneros near Napa, winemaker Jerry Luper expounding on the intricacies of Pinot noir. Other on-site California winemakers were busily oxidising their Chardonnay juice. The jazz and blues emanating from San Francisco overlayed the whole. Appearing on the doorstep of Chateau Petrus prior to the 1986 harvest resulted in a brief apprenticeship at Chateau Lafleur Gazin, one of the small chateaux under the stewardship of Petrus oenologist Jean-Claude Berrouet and negociant Christian Mouiex. The Pomerol vintage as a celebration of harvest provided much an insight into winemaking in France .
On return to Australia, time was spent in the Hunter Valley witness to the blending feats of Jon Reynolds, and following this around Mildura, Victoria. Other work experiences were accumulated in wine retail and production, manufacturing metal trades, music industry, and some business studies including exporting, and commenced a small wine production in about 1988.
1994 saw travel to post-communist Bulgaria as a white wine consultant for some large facilities in regions west of the Black Sea coast. A return visit in 1995 extended into red winemaking. Baden Germany in 1998 oversaw a re-think of white wine production in two facilities to help develop styles being supplied to Sainsbury. The 2000 vintage on the Mediterranean islands of Crete and Cyprus produced wines supplied to Tesco.
2001-2003 were spent in Pemberton, Western Australia producing boutique wines for a number of south-west WA clients, including Wordsworth, Lost Lake, Channybearup, Chalice Bridge, and Mount Shadforth. The white wines especially were produced with a European stylistic influence.
Winemaking opportunities surfaced in southern Italy in 2001, 2002 and 2005, the former vintages in Puglia. The latter vintage in Campagnia produced wines for the Vesevo label. This was interspersed with about a year spent in Malaysia for a grape and fruit wine producing operation.
From the 2006 vintage until mid-2008 was spent as winemaker for contract wine producer Boars Rock at the Waikerie facility in the SA Riverland. Interestingly the same winery much expanded as where took place his original cellarhand work experience in 1981, but since evolved from Kaiser Stuhl, through Penfolds, Southcorp-Fosters. Since then the ownership has changed again to other private owners.
2008 saw commencement as winemaker for the Ramco Wine Group overseeing the production of the Cock+Bull range which had found a footing in Dan Murphy's, and also The Puppeteer range of wines, which continued to be produced at Boars Rock Waikerie for several years from two Riverland vineyards.
Ramco Wine Group became Hill River Estate Wines with the purchase of another vineyard in the Clare Valley, and the production was moved to Yalumba's Oxford Landing. Good quality wine now including a proportion of Clare Valley material received consistent awards. However after a million cases sold the Cock+Bull brand was discontinued in Dan Murphy's in 2014 with the buyer and seller unable to find a way forward.
Meanwhile a bulk wine domestic and export division had been put in place in to service demand, and this continues from another Barossa Valley winery with grapes from the Riverland and Clare Valley being made to bottled wine "Cock+Bull" standard and shipped to various customers in Australia, Europe and China.
The small production commenced in 1988 has produced a diverse range of wines. in recent times these have been mainly from the Clare Valley. The current focus is working on a range of bar drinks available under the Black Stump brand.