Since its first vintage in 1985, Coldstream Hills has built an enviable reputation for producing outstanding and distinctive wines from the Yarra Valley; in particular the hero varieties of the region, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
History will say that James Halliday’s relationship with the Yarra Valley began in 1985 when he and his wife Suzanne bought the original property for Coldstream Hills. However, the connection was made much earlier. James’s first experience with the Yarra Valley was in the late 1970s when he came across some of the first Pinot Noirs made by Mount Mary and Seville Estate. These were enjoyed during those famous wine lunches at Bulletin Place in Sydney with the late, great Len Evans and Co. During research of the book, The Wines and Wineries of Victoria in the late 1970s, James visited the Yarra Valley to have a first-hand look. James says of that trip to the Yarra, “It was love at first sight. I knew that some day, somehow, I would end up in the Yarra Valley. If someone had said to me it would be 20 years before I could make the move, I would not have been the least surprised; indeed, I probably would have agreed.”
James and Suzanne moved to Melbourne in 1983 with his law firm in order to establish a Melbourne office, with the understanding that if he wished to retire in 1988 (on his 50th birthday) there would be no hard feelings. “Even then, I did not intend to buy a property or establish a vineyard until after my retirement. Instead, I intended to make wine in each of the vintages between 1985 and 1988, purchasing grapes and renting space in someone else’s winery, giving myself a bank of stock to tide me over while Suzanne and I established the vineyard and winery,” James said. But in 1985 a 40-acre hillside block with a striking house came onto the market with a date set for auction. James and Suzanne had looked at the property and the house during trips to neighbouring Yarra Yering and had often speculated on the view the house must have had. “This was in 1985, and I still had at least three years of legal practice in front of me. Within 20 minutes of entering the house and talking to the owners we reached agreement on the price, and contracts were exchanged four days later. This was in August 1985; I had already made 400 cases of wine earlier that year and now came the unexpected issue of developing a vineyard on the property,” James said.
Plans for ground preparation were made and one weekend in early December 1985 the first acres were planted at Coldstream Hills with the help of work colleagues and wine industry friends who were roped in for a romantic weekend in the country.
In 1987 an adjoining property to Coldstream Hills unexpectedly came onto the market. History repeated itself and within a week James and Suzanne had signed a contract, with James retiring from law firm Clayton Utz the following year. The winery was then built in 1988 to give Coldstream Hills a home.
Since the late 1980’s Coldstream Hills has continued to grow in success and reputation. In addition to the on-going development of the winery, a number of key vineyard acquisitions took place. The Briarston Vineyard was purchased in 1994, giving rise to a prized selection of Dijon clones for Reserve Chardonnay. In 1996, the Fernhill Vineyard was added to the stable, offering good quality Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In 2013, the Deer Farm and Hazeldene Vineyards in the cool Upper Yarra were included in Coldstream Hills’ vineyards.
In 2009/10, the winery was given a new lease of life with a major upgrade of buildings and winery equipment. In recognition of James Halliday’s contribution to Coldstream Hills, the new fermentation Cellar was named in his honour.
Coldstream Hills Vineyards – courtesy James Halliday
Opening of Halliday Fermentation Cellar – Coldstream Hills October 2010
Andrew Fleming and Greg Jarratt – Winemaking Team
Since 2001, Andrew Fleming (R), along with fellow winemaker Greg Jarratt (L), have led the Coldstream Hills winemaking team. Testament to their combined talents, Coldstream Hills wines have received ongoing recognition at some of the country’s most esteemed wine shows, cementing its position as not only one of the regions great wineries, but also one of the great wine producers of Australia. As Andrew says, ” a combination of a great Team, outstanding fruit and a pretty handy view, we really don’t have any excuses when it comes to making good wine”.
James Halliday – Founder and Consultant
James Halliday has managed to combine three lives in his 70 years: as a lawyer and ultimately a senior partner in one of Australia’s largest law firms for over 20 years; as a winemaker (for over 30 years) and as a journalist and senior wine judge (again for over 30 years).
Most widely known for his witty and informative writing about wine, James Halliday AM was also one of the founders of Brokenwood in the Lower Hunter Valley, New South Wales, and thereafter of Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley, Victoria.
James is an unmatched authority on every aspect of the wine industry, from the planting and pruning of vines through to the creation and marketing of the finished product. His winemaking has led him to sojourns in Bordeaux and Burgundy, and he has had a long career as a wine judge in Australia and overseas. In 1995 he received the wine industry’s ultimate accolade, the Maurice O’Shea Award.
David Ammerlaan – Vineyard Manager
David joined Coldstream Hills in 2008 and has been working in and around the Yarra Valley for the past 20 years.
David started working in the wine industry in 1993, planting grapevines in the rich soils of the Yarra Valley. His personal passion is evident in his ongoing commitment to growing quality wine grapes for Coldstream Hills, with a particular focus on cool climate viticulture.
Jamie Hewet – Viticulturalist/Grower Services Manager
Jamie is the Grower Relations Manager at Coldstream Hills. In his role he manages the relationship with Coldstream Hills contracted growers. During the year, he works closely with the growers on specifications, yield, quality, irrigation management, pricing and the harvest schedule. Jamie is driven by the tangibility of watching vines grow, tasting the fruit and the wine and laying it down to try again years later. Today he ensures the production of quality fruit with our long term growers who are passionate and dedicated to the Coldstream Hills brand.
Coldstream Hills Reserve Wines are the flagship wines in our portfolio. In exceptional years, select parcels of Estate-grown fruit are earmarked for special attention; whether a single vineyard parcel or blend of exceptional fruit. Nurtured through the winemaking process, these wines are crafted to showcase the apex of Coldstream Hills’ winemaking and the very best of the Yarra Valley region. Only wines that meet the Reserve Range standards of excellence are released under this label. The Range includes Reserve Pinot Noir, Reserve Chardonnay and Reserve Shiraz.
Single Vineyard Range
With heritage and experience in the Yarra Valley has come a greater understanding of site, place and terroir. These Single Vineyard wines are crafted to highlight and express the quality and unique characteristics of select vineyards within the Yarra Valley. Made with similar winemaking practices to the Reserve Range, the result is quite different. The Single Vineyard range allows the winemakers to take wine lovers on an exploration of the Yarra Valley via specific and distinct viticultural sights. Wines include Rising Vineyard Chardonnay, Deer Farm Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and The Esplanade Pinot Noir.
Yarra Valley Range
The core range within the portfolio, the Coldstream Hills Yarra Valley Range wines express the purity of the Yarra Valley region in wines of elegance, length and complexity. While still infused with the high standards and winemaking pedigree as the rest of the portfolio, these wines are made to be more accessible in both value and approach and offer a broader range of varieties and styles. The Range includes Coldstream Hills Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot and a Pinot/Noir Sparkling wine.