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Yarra Valley Hall of Fame – Ray Guerin

It was all smiles and standing ovations at the Langton’s Yarra Valley Wine Show last Thursday night, as the next Yarra Valley Hall of Fame inductee Mr Ray Guerin, was announced.

Ray was born in 1947 in McLaren Vale. His father owned a small vineyard and used to be taken out of class early to be taught to prune wines. He in fact, started his working career as a cabinet maker, before completing a stint in Vietnam to work with explosives in 1969.

On return, Ray married his sweetheart, and bought a vineyard in Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale. After many years of hard work, Ray was approached to embark on a partnership in the Yarra Valley. In 1987, the plan was to plant a high-end sparkling wine vineyard in marginally high altitudes and southern slopes…no easy feat.

Turns out, Ray was the young, viticulturally talented, passionate and daring man that fit the job. With just the right amount of naivety, the project was visionary, going on to plant a further 100 acres on the iconic red soils of Beenak.

The project, taken on by BRL Hardy in the early 90’s with Ray heading the viticulturalist management of the sites, to produce, what Steve Flamsteed, Gourmet Wine Traveller’s Winemaker of the Year, 2016, describes as “wines of almost cult status”.

Ray is commended for his dedicated nature towards, not only the finest Victorian and Tasmanian sites he was nurturing, but towards the relationships of the growers.

In 1997, after settling in the Yarra Valley and raising two boys, who also inherited their dad’s vinous thumb, Ray and his business partner, Graham Smith planted the “retirement block”. Just a casual 35 acres of close planted, North-East facing, high altitude, ancient land with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.

“Inspired and visionary,” Steve Flamsteed describes.

Approached by Shaw & Smith, at the young age of 64, Ray became the Chief Viticulturalist for their vineyards in Tasmania and Adelaide Hills.

In 2013, Ray received the very deserving Gourmet Wine Traveller Magazine’s, Viticulturist of the Year award.

To quote Ed Carr, who is arguably one of the World’s greatest sparkling winemakers:

“Our recipient’s knowledge of cold climate viticulture and importantly his relationship with growers was and is second to none and it’s great to see this fully recognised with this award. He has so often been at the cutting edge and turned it into success but has always maintained his great humanity and understanding of the needs of the grape growing community.”

Commended for his carpentry skills, described as a true gentleman and celebrated for his dedication and nurturing sense towards the viticulture field, Ray Guerin is our next Yarra Valley Hall of Fame recipient.

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