Meet Richard Freebairn of Paxton Wines
What was it that drew you to the wine industry?
I grew up on a sheep and cereal grain farm in South East of Western Australia, and I enjoyed the outdoors and hands-on side of farming. However, I love the diversity of winemaking. You can be filling barrels or digging out a ferment one day, and the next hosting a five star dinner in Sydney. Always interesting and great challenges.
You have worked in vineyards all over the country, including the Margaret River, Swan Valley, Sonoma Valley, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley. What is the best thing about working and living in McLaren Vale?
McLaren Vale has it all, I live in Adelaide with my wife and work in the most beautiful wine region five minutes from the ocean and 30 minutes (depending on how you drive) from the city.
What’s your must-do for visitors to McLaren Vale?
BYO picnic basket to our beautiful cellar door surrounded by 1850s stone cottages and rolling green lawns.
What have been some of your highlights of your time at Paxton?
We have won some nice Trophies and received some great James Halliday scores, but I think it is teaching people about Organics and Biodynamics. It is a fantastic way of farming and can really make a big difference to the fruit and especially the wine.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given when it comes to winemaking?
Be patient, wine is not a picture or a snapshot, it is like a movie – always evolving and moving with you. Be patient with wine and enjoy the ride!
Do you have an all-time favourite wine to make? Why is it?
I love making our Pinot Gris, because I don’t use carbon to remove the colour, I use hypoxygenation (basically oxidise it with oxygen). The wine looks so murky and brown all through ferment and stabilisation until one day, generally about three months after harvest, all the brown drops out and you are left with a bright, almost green, hue. It is such a relief!
In 2011 Paxton became a fully certified organic and biodynamic wine producer. Can you tell us more about this certification, what it means, how it is achieved etc.?
We are very proud to be Organic and Biodynamic at Paxton; it gives us a great sense of growing and making for the future. The vines look healthy and the wines have vitality. The certification process takes three years from the dates of application. From that point everything you do must be approved through your certifying body, we are certified through NASAA Certified Organics.
The Paxton Organic MV Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 is our Wine of the Month for June – what makes this a standout wine?
The beautiful aroma of winter greens, it is such a fragrant wine. I love smelling this Cabernet Sauvignon. The other great part is the palate, a perfect wine for the colder months. It has power and poise, bright fruit, as well as lovely tannins. A great wine with stews, soups and hearty winter dishes.
What do you do to relax when you’re away from the winery?
I play golf, not so relaxing, but it gets my head out of the winery.
What’s your ultimate wine and food match?
Paxton MV Cabernet Sauvignon, lamb loin chops (from our farm in Western Australia) mashed potato and peas.
What is your favourite…
Movie? The Lion King
Book? Power of One
Time of day? Any time of the day is a great time in McLaren Vale!
Restaurant? Ruby Red Flamingo in North Adelaide.