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Tuesday 10 August 2021

Meet Australia's trendsetting gurus of gruner

The wine business is a global business nowadays, as evidenced by Larry Jacobs and Marc Dobson from Hahndorf Hill winery in the Adelaide Hills.  

Here you have two South Africans, firmly settled in Australia, working with a range of grape varieties from Austria and exporting to countries including Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK. 

If you are looking for gruner veltliner, blaufrankisch, zweigfelt, even St Laurent, in Australia then you have come to the right place. 

Jacobs was a former intensive-care doctor who gave up medicine to become the founder of Mulderbosch Vineyards in Stellenbosch, South Africa. 

Dobson is a former Rand Daily Mail journalist and advertising copywriter from Cape Town. They are two of the nicest people in the business, as I was reminded by a recent visit. 

Having built Mulderbosch into an international brand, Jacobs sold up and moved to Australia with Dobson in 1997. Falling in love with the cool-climate Adelaide Hills, they bought and  developed Hahndorf Hill Winery.

Blaufrankisch, a red variety, has been grown at Hahndorf Hill for a quarter of a century. Zweigelt is a more recent arrival with St Laurent the newcomer. 

Much of their focus is on the vibrant and spicy white grape gruner veltliner, which many experts see as the "next big thing" in the wine industry. Huon Hooke has described them as "the gurus of gruner." 

"We believe the Adelaide Hills offers the perfect terroir for this grape," says Jacobs (above). "This is a variety that thrives on the dynamic pull between warm days and cold nights during the growing season.

"The Adelaide Hills wine region is defined as being a premier cool-climate region, not because it has particularly cool days during the growing season, but because of the cold nights. We live in a region with one of the biggest diurnal temperature variations, which is ideal for Austrian varieties."

The first vintage of Hahndorf Hill gruner veltliner was released over a decade ago and Hahndorf Hill is today one of the leaders of a group of producers in the Adelaide Hills. Today the pair produces no fewer than four different styles of gruner each vintage.

Visit the cellar door to try something different or to enjoy a wine and chocolate matching. The staff are as charming as the wines.  


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