We promise we’re not about to launch into some epic grape saga called
‘Our History’. Mostly because we don’t have a big one. Santolin Wines didn’t start 250 years ago ‘in the mist-shrouded foothills of the Pyrenees’ or anything even remotely exotic. In fact we’re not big on the whole wine dynasty thing.
We’re a couple of young, driven, lo-fi winemakers from the Yarra Valley. Total staff: Adrian and Rebecca Santolin (that’s us), and our little girls, Sienna, Sofia and Scarlett (not yet on the payroll).
After working at other wineries for too many years, in 2012 we decided to take all our spare money and buy one barrel, one tank and two tonne of pinot noir, and start doing things our way. Fast forward a few years and our indie status was cemented with a win for ‘Best New Act,’ at the Young Gun Awards, we’ve picked up a few trophies including ‘Best New World Chardonnay,’ and ‘Best International Chardonnay’ at HKIWSC and Decanter Asia, Qantas started serving our wines in their International Business class cabins (our wines officially fly better than we do), and our personal wine supply is now secure – a necessary addition when raising small children and running a business.
At the end of the day, we’re making wines we like to drink. We make them small and we make them interesting.
Who are we?
Although we’ve both worked in the wine industry for more than half our lives, we only stepped out on our own in 2012, with absolutely nothing, other than our learned experiences with other wineries and our utter passion for wine. We don’t come from a winemaking dynasty, or generations of grape growers. We are quite literally, the first wine pioneering generation of our business. Our dream? To live life loving what we do.
Adrian’s Italian heritage saw him working on his grandparents farm in school holidays and progressing to the local winery during teenage years for a bit of extra cash to help pay his way through uni. Rebecca’s kiwi heritage has instilled a deep seated bond with the All Blacks, to Adrian’s very bitter disappointment.
We’re making wine our way, raising a family and loving what we do… most days!
What’s in the glass?
Most people would call us low-fi winemakers. We intervene minimally. Our small batch, Santolin wines 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. 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, and our Cosa Nostra wines are a clear example of our love for all things unique and different. Interesting blends, alternative varietals, relatively unknown regions. Small batches of adventurous experimentation, teamed with our minimal winemaking philosophy to best capture the unique and intrinsic nature of these alternative varietals and blends.
Since setting up shop in 2012 we’ve been fortunate enough to earn praise from some of the worlds most influential wine critics and score a few trophies along the way.
Our break out 2012 single vineyard Pinot Noir was awarded 96 points from James Halliday. Our 2013 Chardonnay, released one year later, was given 95 points and cemented our 5 star rating in his annual Wine Companion. Our single vineyard Gladysdale Chardonnay has scored consistently high in recent years with 95 points for our 2016, 95 points for our 2017 and 95 points for our 2018 vintage. Huon Hooke also sung the praise of our 2015 Chardonnay, scoring it 95 points and ranking it #2 of all 2015 Yarra Valley Chardonnays. Matthew Jukes called our 2017 Pinot Noir ‘epically pure and staggeringly sonorous,’ and in November 2018, from more than 85 Chardonnay’s submitted to Decanter’s Vic/Tas Chardonnay tasting, our 2015 Gladysdale Chardonnay was awaded 95 points – the highest scoring Yarra Valley wine and only 1 of 3 wines awarded an ‘Outstanding’ result (the equivalent of a Gold medal).
We’ve also scored some top gongs at local and International Wine Shows. Our 2013 Chardonnay was awarded the trophy for ‘Best International Chardonnay’ at the 2015 Decanter Asia Wine Awards, and another trophy for ‘Best New World Chardonnay’ at the 2014 HKIWSC. More recently, at the 2017 Decanter Awards our 2015 Chardonnay was awarded Gold, and another gold was awarded at the 2016 Global Chardonnay Masters in UK. In 2017, our 2015 Gladysdale Pinot Noir was awarded Top Gold at the pinnacle of all Australian wine shows, the National Wine Show in Canberra.
Since 2017 our wines have been selected by Qantas every year, to feature on their International Business Class Wine Menu. Our wines officially fly better than we do!
Then there’s been a few great listings here at home, at some of Australia’s top restaurants including Attica, Grossi Florentino and Vue de Monde in Melbourne, and The Bridgeroom and a by the glass listing at Bill Granger’s restaurants in Sydney.
Some pretty good endorsements for a couple just doing what we love.