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Thursday 12 August 2021

Brothers in Arms: winemaking by osmosis for 40 years

Imagine working with the same person day in, day out for 40 years. 

It's probably a lot easier when the person you are working with is your brother; as is the case with third-generation pair Bruce and Mal Redman, who are this year celebrating 40 consecutive vintages working together in their family-owned winery in Coonawarra, South Australia. 

When I started writing about wine in the late 1980s, the young gun Redman brothers had already established a formidable reputation for powerful red wines that were long-lived and elegant. 

Nothing much has changed - although the Redmans do now use some screw caps instead of cork closures. 

The Redman family has been making wine in Coonawarra since 1908. Family-owned and -operated, the brand is well regarded for exceptional shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. 

Bill Redman started the winery, and now third- and fourth-generation vignerons Mal, Bruce, Dan and Mike Redman run the business.

Bruce and Mal joined their father Owen in September 1981 to coincide with Owen’s last vintage. The two brothers would jointly take responsibility for Redman Wines’ winemaking.

Both born and bred in Coonawarra, Mal and Bruce have a positive story of mateship and persistence. 


“We are privileged to be in a business with four generations and more than 110 years of history,” says Bruce Redman. 

“Making wines with a consistent style and quality – regardless of the trends – has allowed us to build a loyal multigenerational clientele. Mal and I are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and equally excited to witness the passion of the next generation of Redmans for the business.”


Mal Redman echoes these sentiments, saying: “Working together has been an easy task, as ultimately, we have had the same goals in mind – to produce the best possible wines under the Redman family label. We’ve been able to understand each other’s needs and work side by side in running the family business. 

"Some say that we work almost by osmosis! We’re so familiar with our work routines that we often can go about what we’re doing without needing to say anything further.”


The number of wine brands in Australia has increased from approximately 300 when Redman started to more than 4,000 today. 

The brothers introduced a flagship wine, The Redman, in 2008 to celebrate 100 years of the family growing grapes and making wine in the region. 


The Redmans continue to grow grapes in the same vineyards - and they’re still using a wine pump from 1928. 

“We’ve often been ahead of our time with vineyard practices,” says Mal. “We de-stem and crush grapes in the vineyards at the time of picking, so we deliver only clean grape must into the winery, and leave the MOG [matter other than grapes] in the vineyard. 

"This concept has now become commonplace, but we’ve been doing it for years. It makes for a real point of difference in our wines.”

Fourth-generation Mike and Dan Redman bought into the business in 2020. 

“We’re really focused on nurturing the relationship we have with our customers and continuing to introduce new members to the Redman story,” says Bruce.


And although shiraz and cabernet will always be the hearts of the Redman brand, climate change may present some opportunities to experiment with other, non-traditional grape varietals. The times they are a changing - slowly but surely. 

Which is the Redman way.  

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