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Wednesday 6 May 2015

Meet the South Africans focusing on Austrian grapes in the Adelaide Hills

Take two South Africans, a vineyard in the Adelaide Hills and a love of Austrian grape varieties and you have a very different tasting offering at Hahndorf Hill. 

The operation here is owned by Larry Jacobs and Marc Dobson; Jacobs was once an intensive-care doctor who gave up medicine to become the founder of Mulderbosch Vineyards in Stellenbosch, South Africa. 

Larry Jacobs in the vineyard
Dobson is a former journalist and advertising copywriter from Cape Town.

Having built Mulderbosch into an international brand, Jacobs sold the winery and emigrated with his partner to Australia in 1997. 

Today Jacobs oversees all vineyard and winery operations at Hahndorf Hill, while Dobson is responsible for marketing and the cellar door.

Tasting options include the ChocoVino, a chance to pair different wine styles with various chocolates, while vinophiles love to enjoy varieties like gruner veltliner, blaufrankisch and zweigelt in Australia.

“It was our familiarity with blaufrankisch, which has grown at Hahndorf Hill for 20 years, that led us ultimately to its exciting white counterpart - gruner veltliner,” says Jacobs. 

From a first vintage in 2010, Hahndorf Hill's wine labelled “GRU” has developed a formidable reputation and is today made from six different clones. 

There are now three wines made from gruner in the line-up with the addition of GRU2 (a more opulent wine known as the smaragd style by the Austrians) made riper grapes and wild-fermented in French barriques, and a slightly sweeter style labelled White Mischief. 

"Gruner veltliner may be new to Australia, but we believe the Adelaide Hills offers the perfect terroir for this grape," says Jacobs.

But the focus is not entirely on Austria; Hahndorf Hill also produces some of the classic varieties for which the Adelaide Hills wine region is renowned - sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, along with cool-climate shiraz and two ros├ęs, one made from zwiegelt and the other mainly from trollinger.   

Hahndorf Hill Winery, 38 Pains Road, Hahndorf. (08) 8388 7512.

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