Simon Robertson from Tumblong Hills
Jack of all terroirs
Simon Robertson of Tumblong Hills is a second generation pioneering vigneron with a reputation for harnessing terroir.
As a child, Simon Robertson remembers, he says, “Siphoning wine from barrel to flagons in the cellar under the Barwang house with my family.”
His father Peter established Barwang Winery in the Hilltops regions of New South Wales in the 1960s and along with it, a reputation as a pioneering winemaker and viticulturist.
Having spent his childhood immersed in his father’s craft, Simon’s future was set. Having worked at Barwang and participated in viticulture and winemaking courses, he looked to Europe to expand his knowledge.
There he discovered the likes of Château d’Yquem in Sauternes, France, and Tokaj in Hungary.
“Spending time in Sauternes and Tokaj was a dream come true,” he says, “as my favourite wines are made from grapes affected with noble rot.”
But it’s in an unlikely destination that Simon has found what he says is “pure inspiration.”
“The Deccan Plateau in India with its magical formations and the remarkable soils created by the Deccan Traps lava flow is something to behold. To work with these soils is a privilege.”
Some of Simon’s year is spent working in India, where, he says, “Getting your head around tropical viticulture, two prunings a year with no dormancy, involves a rethink of traditional temperate climate viticulture.”
But even in this unfamiliar landscape he’s found reminders of home.
“The passion of the people involved in the industry reminds me a lot of my father’s early days,” he says. “When he converted farming country in the southwest slopes of New South Wales to vineyard and his establishment of the Barwang cellar door and winery.”
On home soil
It’s back on his father’s old stomping ground that Simon spends the majority of his days as general manager and vigneron of Tumblong Hills in the Southern New South Wales region of Gundagai.
And like his father before him, Simon is known as a pioneer of his craft. But his know-how reaches far beyond the vine.
From growing the grapes, to making the wine, to selling it and balancing the books, he’s seen by his team as a jack of all trades. However, he says, “You cannot be a jack of all trades without loyal, talented people around you and I am lucky enough to have that in all three processes, some of those working relationships spanning 25 years.”
And his knowledge is expansive, stretching from the tropics of India to the low lying foothills of the Snowy Mountains. In these unique Australian conditions, he explains, “The effect of the katabatic winds from the high mountains can be seen in our wines, giving the impression they are from a cooler climate.”
Simon’s ability to harness diverse terroir has contributed to an impressive portfolio of premium Tumblong Hills wines; a legacy he’s keen to continue.
“Going forward,” he says, “with the luxury of 200 hectares of vineyard in its prime, I can only see growth for the Tumblong Hills brand and recognition of Gundagai as a region where quality marketable wines are grown.”
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Tumblong Hills have an ambition to produce some of the finest wines available in the world today. With a strong focus on expressing the vineyard’s unique characteristics, the Tumblong Hills team work passionately and tirelessly nurturing vines, handpicking fruit at their optimal point of ripening, understanding the often dynamic climate, and of course, experiencing the joy of the first comprehensive tasting after harvest.
Over the years, the close-knit Tumblong Hills team have refined their processes to make achieving world-class results, from vine to bottle, as seamless as possible.