For Sydney Publican Blair Hayden, proprietor of the legendary Lord Nelson Hotel in The Rocks, after thirty years in the Craft Beer business pioneering the industry in Australia and continuing to grow it with passion, the addition of a single vineyard wine business having very similar synergy seemed the way to go.
Blair purchased almost 20 acres on Stockwell Road, Light Pass, a very special piece of rare red dirt, in 2011. It has been very much a labor of love, with the long-neglected vineyard having been painstakingly restored back to health over the past 8 years. The vineyard is planted to some very old Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro- some more than 100 years old. Along with that some 50 year Shiraz, and 25 year Chardonnay, which has since been grafted over to Cabernet Sauvignon, and recently to small parcels of Gamay and Nebbiolo. The rareness of this terroir attracts many; Henschke contracts half of the Cabernet fruit for their Kyneton blend, for example.
The winemaking philosophy is simple: less is more. Earlier harvests; long, slow and gentle extractions; judicious use of oak; wild ferments and low inputs all combine to create a suite of wines that is undeniably Barossa Valley, yet in a very contemporary frame. Texture and balance are the stars here; restrained power might be the motto. With young-gun winemaker (and next door neighbor) Ben Chipman of Tomfoolery Wines at the helm and getting to know the vineyard better with every vintage, the trajectory for Lot 462 is a very exciting one.
For Publican Blair Hayden the move to wine was a natural progression after a life dedicated to artisan food and beverage. For founding member and custodian of renowned brewpub, The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, the move was also one of passion and the desire to put an inheritance from his beloved mother into dirt.