I had the pleasure of working with Stefan at Chateau Yaldara back in 2017 and 2018. I remember his enthusiasm, knowledge and passion for wine was something rarely seen across many of the wineries I had worked at. We shared many laughs over the trials and tribulations of vintage time and throughout the year. I can remember Stefan working huge hours with Chateau Yaldara during the day, and then working with his own wines afterwards. His hard work and dedication have paid off, with Dewey Station Wines showcasing that beautifully elegant Barossa style, year after year. I can recommend his wines to anyone keen to check out that unique boldness that Barossa has to offer.
The Story So Far
What’s your story? How did it lead you into the wine industry?
I have always enjoyed and appreciated wine, ever since the age of 18 of course! At 18 years old, unsure of my future career, I started working at a clothing retailer. I discovered I had a knack for sales, although for me clothing was not my calling. One afternoon I was sitting in a pub in Gawler, and I ordered a glass of wine. I can’t even remember what the wine was, but I remember my young brain ticking and thinking “this is good wine… I could sell this!” Selling then lead me to making and the rest is history!
Where did you gain most of your experience with wine from? As in, which wineries have you worked at?
I started my wine journey back in 2006 when I completed a course at TAFE – Evaluation of Wines Standard & Advance 1&2. I was fortunate enough to top the class, which then lead me to seek out my first vintage and gave me the conviction I was searching for. I then began to study Wine Marketing at the University of Adelaide in 2007. I did two vintages at Kellermeister Wines 2007 & 2008. Trevor saw my passion for wine and ability to engage others over those vintages, which led to him offering me a role within their wholesale team as a wine rep. I did this for two years before deciding to get another vintage under my belt, this time with Peter Lehmann Wines in 2009. I graduated with my Wine Marketing degree at the end of 2009, then setting off to travel for a couple of years, before returning in 2012 for the 2012 and 2013 vintages with Chateau Tanunda. After a short stint over in Perth working for Negotiants Wine Merchants, the production side of the industry continued to call me. So once again, I headed back across the Nullabor and home to SA. Since then, I have worked for Chateau Tanunda (again), Chateau Yaldara, and for this coming vintage, I will be joining the Winemaking Team at Two Hands, which I am very excited about.
When did you start your journey with Dewey Station Wines?
After careful planning and consideration in 2016, my wife Ellie and I created our label – Dewey Station Wines. 2017 welcomed our first vintage and with it our fun filled, and quirky style was born. We are now 5 vintages in with number 6 fast approaching!
What are some of your favourite varieties you have worked on over the years, and why have you chosen these to work with?
Graciano is one of my favorite varieties. It is a Spanish variety that is normally teamed with Tempranillo to make up the most famous Riojan wine – Gran Reserva. I first came across it whilst working with Chateau Tanunda, and much like the Spanish, they were making this wonderful wine and then blending it away to play a supporting role in various different wines. I know, I know… it’s basically what it is grown for… But I was losing my mind! I fell in love with the single variety parcels we had crafted, and to me, it was sacrilege to hide it away in blends. It took a few years but in 2019 I finally managed to source a small amount of Graciano for myself which then became our ‘Off the Beaten Track’ Graciano. A showstopping wine that demands center stage. Graciano in all its glory.
Where is your fruit typically sourced from?
All our fruit is Barossa GI but we purchase from a variety of vignerons across this region. Our fruit comes from; Tweedies Gully, Altona, Ebenezer and Springton/Eden Valley.
What style of wine do you aim to produce?
At Dewey Station Wines we aim to showcase the elegance of the Barossa with a focus on fruit purity. We aim to capture the very essence and flavours seen in the vineyard within our finished wines. The Barossa is famous for its big traditional Barossan style of wines – big wines, extracted, powerful and tannic offerings. There are so many out there that do this style to a tee. We wanted to show a different side of the Barossa focusing on elegance, fruit purity and minimal oak intervention, to produce approachable, bright and fruit forward wines that drink wonderfully early in their life. In saying that, can you really be a Barossan winery without at least one traditional Barossan offering? We think not! Our Anne-Inspired has that in spade… rich, dark fruit palate, oak for days and beautiful rosemary spice synonymous with the subregion that is Ebenezer. It really is a treat.
What type of barrels do you tend to use, and for which wines and what reasons?
We love French oak. D’Aquitaine Allier Forest-Select specifically. We use an element of this oak across all our wines, and it produces different outcomes in each. Lovely creaminess in our Mars Express, beautiful burnt caramel in our GSM. We love these characters that it creates and its ability to support and emphasise the delicate fruit characters. When putting our blends together we are very particular with the oak and % of new oak that we use, as we want the oak to support the fruit and not become the focus or to dominate the overall flavour profile.
How can you tell when you’ve had a particularly good vintage?
Most of the time, we can tell a few days in if a wine is going to sing or not. I love vintage time, it’s one of my favorite times of year as you are seeing all the different parcels coming in. And if by the end of it, the wines are still letting off their beautiful floral aromas and singing from their tanks then I am a happy man. The main elements that let us know we have had a particularly good vintage are: Excellent fruit concentration, vibrant aromatics, great colour extraction, rich and approachable tannins and most importantly balance!
What inspired you to begin your own wine label?
Passion. Stubbornness. The desire to share and show wines the way I enjoy them – Fresh, bright, fruit forward. I am very passionate about wine. Anyone that has heard me speak wine can vouch for that. I am also very meticulous, and I know what I like and what I want. I was itching to start my own brand for quite a while, so that I could have total freedom over what goes both on and in the bottle but was waiting for the right time. As things got more serious between Ellie and I and we started talking about having kids, I decided that if I didn’t take the plunge now there would never be a right time. So, with the tick of approval from the wife (Happy wife, happy life, right?) planning for Dewey Station Wines ensued.
What keeps you passionate about making wine?
My drive to keep a roof over my head… Haha. Honestly, I don’t know how it is possible not to be passionate about making wine! There is always something happening, and it is a living thing, ever evolving. Each vintage brings new characteristics and new challenges. I love seeing what each year brings and creating the best wines that I can make based on that.
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
Vintage. Although it’s the best time of the year it is also the most challenging. It is exciting but can be very mentally challenging, as you flog the body for those 10-12 weeks. Add in the newest addition to the family (last year she was about 9 weeks old when vintage kicked off and she is not the best sleeper) and you’ve got yourself a challenge right there.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Having that ‘I made that moment’, I’m like that with everything I do. Have you ever done your own paving at home or completed a job and you are sitting back looking at it thinking ‘that was me.. I achieved that.. and it’s pretty darn good’? (If I don’t say so myself). I get those moments with wine, my wife and I may be sitting on the sofa or out enjoying a glass of our wine with friends, and I get that little moment of ‘how cool is this, we are sitting here, enjoying something that we have made together’.
Which I guess is another point… It is so rewarding being able to do what I love with the woman I love. Ellie and I make a great team, I am so appreciative that she took my passion on and made it our thing. It would be so much more stressful without her support.
Do you have a favourite wine that you’ve made?
Yes, our 2021 Graciano – yet to be released. I am obviously a massive fan of Graciano (If you haven’t picked up on that already, haha) but this vintage is the best so far!
I think that, as I’ve worked with the vineyard for a few years now, I am really working out how best to magnify the characteristics that are most desirable. By adopting certain production techniques, I feel that I’ve been able to get the best out the vineyard and variety.
Do you have a favourite wine and food pairing?
I have two. Ebenezer (Anne-Inspired) Shiraz with rack of Lamb – there’s a dried rosemary flavour within the wine which just loves being matched with lamb. GSM and red sauce pasta or pizza. A classic but a goody!
Are any of your wines made for aging?
Our Anne-Inspired Shiraz is definitely made for aging! We reckon she’s got a good 10-15 years on her. Made in the more traditional Barossan style, everything from acid line to tannin structure screams ‘built to age!’.
To be fair, our Mars Express probably has around 7 years in the bank. We have recently opened a 2018 which is drinking beautifully and has many great years ahead of it.
What recent success have you had at the Barossa Wine show?
The Barossa wine show was very kind to us this year. We entered 5 wines and came home with 5 silvers. Can’t be mad at that! We also took home one Gold for our Mars Express Shiraz and two Bronze for our Spring Tide Riesling and Venus Express GSM in the Royal Adelaide Wine Show, recently. We’ve experienced good success at the Barossa Wine Show over the journey. Our Venus Express GSM won gold last year and our Mars Express Shiraz and Moonglow Rose won gold the year before. We are very proud of how our little brand stands up on the big stage!