First a little background … beyond the words of “wine maker” and “vineyard”, how do you describe what Ross Hills Wines do?
Simply, we produce quality, cool climate, wild yeast fermented, and sustainable wines in a carbon neutral winery. We are a family business, owned by two generations of the Robson family, based in Orange, Central Western New South Wales.
Is there an overarching philosophy that guides the business?
Ross Hill has long prided itself on a solid environmental policy and we’ve carefully approached all aspects of our wine production process by adopting sustainable principles from our vineyards to the hands-on winemaking procedures we practice.
Using low input viticulture and traditional winemaking techniques, such as applying indigenous yeast cultures which encourages biodiversity and minimises the need for artificial chemicals and additives. We also reduced the impact of irrigation by a program of mulching cover crops planted between autumn and winter and local sheep are brought in to graze between the vines after harvest which helps reduce tractor hours, weeds and the use of fertilizers.
The Orange terroir is exceptionally unique and we work with this beautiful environment to produce our wine in the most sustainable way possible.
And the winery is carbon neutral?
We are the first, and are still currently the only, winery in Australia to be certified by the Australian Federal Government as carbon neutral. We met our main environmental sustainability goal – to become a carbon neutral organisation – in early 2016, following a dedicated, six-year-long program. The winery and our two vineyards are certified but the actual wine we produce is certified carbon neutral as well.
How did the relationship between Ross Hill and Fratelli Fresh begin?
Nearly 10 years ago, Ross Hill started providing Fratelli Fresh with carafe wine for the restauarants. These carafes were really popular, so as Fratelli continued to grow, Ross Hill worked with the team to create and supply the Fratelli Fresh brand of house wines.
Ross Hill worked closely with Fratelli to come up with seven different styles of wine that complemented the Italian cuisine. We’ve both worked hard to make sure the food and wine matches are spot on.
Has your perception of the market/consumer changed over the last 10 years?
The wine consumer has become more aware and vocal about what they want and what they like. The wine industry needs to be aware about how proactive and educated the wine consumer has really become. They want to know where their wine was produced, how it was made and by whom. If you say your wine is sustainable, you need to be able to explain why and how because the consumer wants to, and has a right to know. They want facts and they know if they’re being ‘green washed.’
When such well respected hospitality groups such as Rockpool Dining Group and Fratelli Fresh support local, New South Wales and Australian produce and farmers, and share the same philosophy, the customer/diner has the opportunity to support them too. And that’s got to be the best kind of food and wine match in my book! We’re really honoured to work with such a well-respected and dedicated restaurant group who share our passion for quality.
Fratelli Fresh is holding a series of wine dinners this May hosted by Ross Hill Wines’ James Robson. For more details or to book your spot visit the website.
Visit the Ross Hill Wines’ Cellar Door at 134 Wallace Lane, Orange, NSW. Open 7 days per week from 10:30am-5pm. Winery tours run each day at 10am, sharp. Or take a look at their website, Facebook and Instagram.
Top image: Ross Hill’s ‘Pinnacle Series’ Chardonnay fruit, freshly hand picked at the Griffin Road vineyard in Orange during Vintage 2017. Credit: Pip Farquharson.
Middle image: James & Chrissy Robson with their wine dog Jerry walk through the vines of Ross Hill’s Wallace Lane vineyard in Orange, Central Western NSW. Credit: Pip Farquharson.