The story of Santolin Wines doesn’t start 250 years ago ‘in the foothills of the Pyrenees’ or anything even mildly exotic. We didn’t inherit an ancient wine dynasty, and our grapes aren’t foot-stomped by a secret order of Trappist monks.
It was started by us, Adrian and Rebecca Santolin, here in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. A culmination of passion, love and need for a constant wine supply in the house.
Let’s wind the clock back to 2012. We took all our money and bought one barrel, one tank and a couple of tonnes of pinot. That was the start. Getting up early and making the kids’ lunches, driving them to school, foot stomping, hand plunging, blending, tasting, designing labels, balancing the books, brushing knots out of tangled hair – we’re a proper family winery. Our girls even swirl their grape juice.
The business has grown a little since those early days. We’ve now got 120 barrels instead of one, we’ve won awards, our wine is stocked all over Australia and shipped to Hong Kong and the UK. Matthew Jukes even called our pinot noir “epically pure and staggeringly sonorous.”
The mission (if you can call is a ‘mission’) is pretty much the same as it’s always been. Make wine we love to drink. Keep things simple. And never skimp on quality.
What’s in the glass?
When you’re working with Yarra Valley terroir, the last thing you want to do is mess about with the grapes. That’d be like doodling on a Picasso.
Most people would call us ‘Low-Fi’ winemakers. We intervene minimally. Our small batch pinot noir and chardonnay are left to ferment naturally. We prefer to let the funky fermentation run wild, creating sexy grape symphonies and fruity supernovas. Fining agents are not added. No weird egg whites or milk protein. Our Pinot Noir is not filtered. You should be able to taste the Valley in there.
We foot-stomp and hand-plunge our Pinot Noir. It’s still the gentlest way to extract colour from the grapes (plus, it’s great exercise). Our wines are left to age in 100% French oak barrels, then matured in the bottle for maximum complexity. Like a really delicious cryptic crossword.
We also like to experiment with odd varieties, different blends and fruit from relatively unknown and emerging regions – whilst still maintaining our lo-fi winemaking ethos.
We’ve picked up a few awards over the years too, including Best International Chardonnay (Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2015), Best New World Chardonnay (HK International Wine & Spirits Awards) and Best Italian Varietal (Winewise Championships 2016), plus gold medals in the Global Pinot Noir Masters and the Boutique Wine Awards.
At the end of the day, we’re making wines we like to drink. We make them small and we make them interesting. Cheers to that.
We’ve won a few awards since starting up in 2012. Our 2013 Pinot Noir was awarded 96 points from James Halliday and achieved a gold medal in the 2015 Global Pinot Noir Masters held in the UK.
Our 2013 Chardonnay was awarded 95 points from James Halliday and received five trophies, including the the trophy for ‘Best International Chardonnay’ at the 2015 Decanter Asia Wine Awards.
Our 2014 Nero d’Avola was awarded a medallion for Best Italian Varietal at the 2016 Winewise Championships. Continuing success for this variety, our follow on 2015 Nero d’Avola scored gold at the Boutique Wine Awards.
Since 2013, every vintage of our Pinot Noir has been selected, along with our Gladysdale Chardonnay, to fly Business Class on International Qantas flights.
Our 2015 Willowlake Pinot Noir was awarded 96 points by James Halliday and achieved six Gold medals including Top Gold at Australia’s most renowned wine awards, the 2017 National Wine Show.