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The Mornington Peninsula was scarcely associated with wine when Garry planted his first vines at Dromana in 1982.
As a key figure in the region's pioneering wave of vignerons, Garry was instrumental in forging for the Peninsula a reputation as a distinguished producer of cool climate wine.
From the outset, he recognized the area's climatic suitability to the Burgundian varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and set about confirming it through meticulous viticulture and sophisticated winemaking techniques.
Consistent with the reputation of Dromana Estate's wines was its development into one of the Peninsula's leading wine tourism destinations, where stylish, handcrafted wines were matched with good food and warm, generous hospitality.Over the years, as the stature of the wines bottled under the Dromana Estate label continued to grow, so too did the Peninsula's profile as one of Australia's pre-eminent cool climate wine regions.
And with a thirst for exploring new horizons and charting unexplored territory, Garry also went on to create two other brands drawing on grapes from other premium regions of Victoria. The first, Schinus, remains a favourite among consumers in Australia and abroad. Garry also helped to pioneer the production of Italian varietals in Australia with his ground-breaking Garry Crittenden I range.
At a time when awareness of such varieties was barely at an embryonic stage, he helped to bring about an increasingly widespread appreciation of varietals such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Arneis.
Garry Crittenden has returned as a dedicated small scale vigneron with an exciting new series of handcrafted wines. A leading figure in the Australian wine industry for 25 years, Garry was the founder and chief winemaker of the renowned Dromana Estate, now a publicly-listed company.Today, his efforts are being channeled into producing small batches of wines that elegantly and emphatically speak of their varietal and geographic provenance, under the Crittenden, Schinus, Pinocchio and Geppetto ranges.
The property formerly known as Dromana Estate is now the base for Garry's new winemaking operations, as well as home to Stillwater Restaurant, owned and operated by acclaimed chef Zac Poulier.
Garry's portfolio now spans estate-grown, cool climate wines of Burgundian origin, new and exciting Italian varietals and other regional classics from both the Mornington Pensinsula and further afield from some of north-east Victoria's finest vineyards.
While that is indicative of how far he has come since planting his first vines on the Peninsula, there is one, overriding and essential constant linking all phases of his winemaking career: a deep-seated commitment to doing everything possible in the vineyard that leads to the finest fruit quality and, afterwards, treating that fruit in the winery in such a way as to ensure it produces inspirational wine that reflects such care, passion and craftsmanship."Consider this," says Garry: "When I planted my first five acres of vines on my property here in Harrisons Road, I doubled the existing total area of vines planted on the Mornington Peninsula at that time.
"Today there are in excess of 2500 acres planted. Having been involved over the years in both "small" and "large" scale winemaking, I'm happy to have recently returned to the artisan scale where production is measured in hundreds, not thousands, of cases."
Garry is immensely pleased to have a hands on involvement once again in all facets of the business, from growing the grapes and making the wine to finally packaging and marketing it. "Our aim is quite straight forward: we simply want to make quality wines at an affordable price that show the true expression of the grape variety and the region," says Garry.
"Nothing too tricky about that really is there?"
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