About Us

The Family

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Family photo: (back left to right) Melissa, Mark and Jodi (front left to right) Tony, Brett, Lyn and baby Jayden

“From the moment we laid eyes on the land, we knew we had discovered something special…”

That something special was rich undulating fields in the shadows of Mt Ida, Heathcote, Central Victoria. Tony and Linda Hunter’s vision was to create a family-run boutique vineyard where quality, passion and energy were reflected in the wine.

Embraced by children Mark and Jodi and their respective partners Melissa and Brett, Sanguine Estate expanded from 16 acres to 55 in just five years.

The family’s desire to produce great wine flows through every glass. Through natural winemaking techniques combined with small batch processing and hand plunging, the purity and integrity of the wine is enhanced.

This love for creating fine wine has its roots over 100 years ago. The Great Grandfather of Tony Hunter, Pietro D’orsa, left Italy in 1868 to make a new life in Australia, becoming a vigneron in the town of Maldon 100 km west of Heathcote.

Today, Mark continues this family tradition as Sanguine Estate’s full time vigneron and winemaker in conjunction with Jodi as General Manager, Melissa as Finance Manager and Brett as International Sales Manager.  A true family affair!

Our Winemaker

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Mark Hunter

The son of Linda and Tony Hunter (and of course, my brother), Mark commenced his involvement with the business in the vineyard as the viticulturist, but his natural creative flair soon saw him deeply involved with the winemaking process.

For the 2000 and 2002 vintages, Mark understudied Matt Hunter (no relation) who made the Sanguine Estate Shiraz (only one wine back then) in his winery called Langanook at Sutton Grange.  Matt’s approach to winemaking was very much “by the book” with constant analysis and testing which was critical for Mark’s LAURITZ_SA1982_0203development in the early years.

After some very successful vintages including the sell out of our vintages in less than 6 months, we decided that upon expiration of a grape supply contract to Southcorp that we would build a winery on our Estate in Heathcote and produce wine from 100% of our grape production.  Going from a rather small winemaking operation ie several hundred cases to 10,000 cases in just one year.  Therefore a decision was made to engage a local Heathcote winemaker who not only had vast experience and success with producing wine in the Heathcote region but who also had European winemaking experience.   So while the winery was being designed and built, the Sanguine Estate wine (2002 and 2003 vintages) was made off site by winemaker Peter Dredge (Red Edge Heathcote brand) together with Mark.

(note: Matt Hunter also contributed to the 2002 blend with wine made from grapes from our Estate).

Peter’s winemaking technique was the exact opposite of Matt Hunter’s.  Peter was more old world style with wild yeasts, whole bunch ferments and encouraged experimentation.  Some might say a more risky approach to what Mark had experienced so far however the potential upside was worth it.  It was working alongside Peter that Mark ignited his artistic flair and learnt a great deal about “letting the grapes speak for themselves” a more minimalistic approach to winemaking.

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In 2004, the winery was completed (the day before harvest I might add) and Mark officially took over the winemaking for Sanguine.  Always looking for ways to continually improve and to prevent cellar palate (ie “our baby isn’t ugly”), we decided we needed an independent blending expert (particularly now we had over 300 barrels to blend wine from).  It was from the 2005 vintage that we engaged Winemaker Ben Riggs (Mr Riggs, Pennys Hill, Zontes Footsteps, Black  Chook, Wirra Wirra etc etc).  A phenomenal businessman, winemaker, viticulturist who has become a close family friend.   He keeps us on the straight and narrow and we feel very lucky to have him involved in our family business.

Mark is now the contract winemaker for several vineyards in Heathcote including Domaine Asmara, Sheoak Hill and Red Red Wine (Simon O’Donnell’s – former Australian Cricketer – own brand).

We are very proud of Mark who achieved 5 star winery status by James Halliday in 2011 and in 2014, because a red 5 star winery placing Sanguine Estate in the top 8.2% of the 2800 wineries registered with James Halliday.

He has  won numerous trophies for our Shiraz, Chardonnay and Tempranillo wines including winning the “Heathcote Grand Terroir” Major trophy at the past two Heathcote Wine Shows.

Our wines also regularly achieve 4 ½ to 5 star ratings in Winestate magazine (one of Australia’s notable wine magazines) and our shiraz wines consistently fall in the top 4% of wines judged in the Winestate Greatest Syrah & Shiraz Challenge at least equalling or outperforming some of the World’s most iconic brands.

Over recent years Mark has been awarded numerous medals including 5 Blue Gold medals at the Sydney International Wine Show and over 50 Gold and Silver medals at various Australian wine shows such as Boutique Wine Awards, Winewise Small Vigneron awards, le Concours des Vin (Victorian Wine Show), Melbourne Wine Show, National Cool Climate Wine Show and the National Wine Show.

Our wines have also featured in the 2012 Herald Sun Top 100 wines, the Vic100 Wine awards Top 100 and in the Sydney International Top 100 over a number of years.

 

The Vineyard

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Sanguine Estate vineyard and winery established in 1997 is located approximately 5km along the Northern Highway from the turn off to Echuca (North of Heathcote).

The Hunter Family worked weekends to establish the initial 16 acres that grew rapidly over the following years to 55 acres by 2002.

50 acres has been planted to Shiraz whilst 5 acres (affectionately referred to as the fruit salad block) has 8 different varieties to test what else ie other than Shiraz, could do well in our Heathcote microclimate.  The varieties include Chardonnay, Viognier, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo and one variety that is unknown in Australia.  An exciting mystery that’s worth an explanation.

After our first vintage was already bottled, my father was reading a book on early Victorian viticultural history called “Better than Pommard” by David Dunstan.  At the back of the book it lists early Victorian Vignerons and it was there that my father discovered that his great great grandfather Pietro D’Orsa (my great great great grandfather – makes him seem sooo much older) was registered as a vigneron in Maldon – just a hop skip and a jump away from Heathcote.  This discovery was simply amazing.  We have since visited the site of Pietro’s vineyard, met family we never new existed who still own the property and found remnant vines that we have since had DNA tested.  This is where the mystery vine comes in.  For one of the vines there is no record of this particular variety in Australia so it truly is a mystery.  So we grafted it to a special vineyard on our property in Heathcote.  It’s an aromatic pink grape and just how well it will do in our Heathcote climate remains to be seen but it’s still very exciting all the same.

the-vineyard

Vineyard Statistics

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Established: 1997
GI zone: Central Victoria
GI Region: Heathcote
Acres under vine: 50 acres of shiraz
5 acres comprising 8 different varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet
Sauvignon,Petit Verdot, Viognier, Tempranillo, Chardonnay and a “mystery” vine)
Vineyard manager: Mark Hunter
Winery capacity: 200 tonne crush
Winemakers: Mark Hunter
Ben Riggs (Consultant)

Wines produced to date:

D’Orsa Reserve Shiraz 2006, 2008, 2009
Estate Shiraz 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010
Progeny Shiraz 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Kindred Shiraz 2012
Sanguine Estate Music Festival Shiraz 2009, 2010
Sanguine South Australia Shiraz 2011
Sanguine Estate Wine Club Shiraz 2012
Tempranillo 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007,2008, 2009, 2011, 2012
Cabernet Blends 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
Chardonnay/Viognier 2004,2005,
Chardonnay 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012
Major Exports: China
Hong Kong
Singapore

How to Get There

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Our Cellar Door is open weekends and Public Holidays 10am – 5pm. Visitation outside these hours is available by appointment only.

Our address is 77 Shurans Lane Heathcote.

To get to Heathcote, there are two routes that can be taken from Melbourne.

(1) Scenic Route

Along a windy road through some amazing granite boulders.
(Melbourne -> Tullamarine -> Romsey -> Lancefield -> Tooborac -> Heathcote)
The scenic route is by far more captivating and interesting than the Highway route.

To get to Heathcote

From Melbourne drive toward Sunbury via Tullamarine airport. Before Sunbury is a turnoff to Romsey and Lancefield. This road is very windy and picturesque and will eventually come to a T intersection. Turn left and travel through the township of Tooborac. The next town is Heathcote.

To get to Sanguine Estate

Travel through Heathcote and at the end of town is a turnoff to Echuca. Approximately 5km from this turnoff, on the left hand side is a dirt road called Shurans Lane. Shurans Lane will take you to the gates of Sanguine Estate.

(2) Highway route

(Hume Highway -> Northern Highway)

To get to Heathcote

From Melbourne travel along the Hume Highway until you reach the Northern Highway turnoff to Wallan and Kilmore. Travel through the major towns of Wallan, Kilmore and Tooborac. The next town is Heathcote.

To get to Sanguine Estate

Travel through Heathcote and at the end of town is a turnoff to Echuca. Approximately 5km from this turnoff, on the left hand side is a dirt road called Shurans Lane. Shurans Lane will take you to the gates of Sanguine Estate.
(If you are coming from the region of Nagambie or other phyllexora regions, please ring prior to entering the property).

The Region

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Located 90 minutes north of Melbourne, this historic town in the heart of Victoria is famous for its full-bodied yet smooth Shiraz wines; uniquely deep in colour and flavour.

The secret is the 510 million year old Cambrian earth, found along an ancient land fault running through Heathcote. This deep red earth brings a character to the landscape and wine unlike anywhere in the world.

Sanguine Estate can be found along this fault line.

James Halliday

“The Heathcote sub-region of Bendigo,…is generally recognized as one of Australia”s finest for shiraz” … ” These are wines with awesome depth of flavour, richness and ripeness, a vinous brocaded tapestry. Typically 13.5 per cent to 14 per cent alcohol, they are extremely long-lived.”
www.jameshalliday.com.au

Max Allen

“… some observers tip Heathcote as the very best place in Australia for full-blooded red wine (an opinion I share: as I’ve written previously, if I ever gave in to the urge to make wine myself, Heathcote’s where I’d go).”
Australian Magazine April 27-28 2002 The new red center

Nick”s Wine Merchants

Like some wondrous child prodigy, Heathcote is a viticultural paradox: a district where young vines that would be considered ‘immature’ elsewhere, consistently produce stunning symphonies of flavour…. Perhaps no other wine region in the world has established itself so dramatically in such a short time.
Heathcote: A Viticultural Paradox