Located in Australia’s Yarra Valley, Pimpernel Vineyards is an exciting family-run producer of top quality Australian wines.
Winemaker Mark Horrigan’s wine experience began in youth. In a burgeoning Australian wine culture, his father, a professor of economics, was intent to pass on his passion for wine to the next generation. Frequent winery visits led to close friendships with winemakers. Wine was so much part of the family routine the garage was occasionally transformed into a bottling line, the unit for which is now on display in the Pimpernel Vineyards Wine Room. Immersion was underway and evidently irreversible.
Postponing the promotion of wine to first choice career, Mark was an interventional cardiologist in Australia and the US. Whilst working in Sydney the idea of his own vineyard (re)surfaced and he and his wife Fiona, a successful accountant, started their search for a suitable plot. The Hunter wines weren’t suited to Mark’s idea of what he wanted to make and couldn’t offer a vineyard in close proximity to a metropolis. It was in 1997, returning to Melbourne that the Yarra Valley became the focus of the search. The site, finally purchased in 2001, was an un-planted, North facing plot with some very successful neighbours: Yarra Yering, Coldstream Hills and Yeringberg.
With assistance from the late Dr. Bailey Carrodus, the model for production was established. Dry farming, hand tending, green cropping, minimal intervention: ‘Lutte raisonée’ with a predilection for organics. Taking full advantage of the Yarra Yering experience, small improvements were made notably implementing gravity fed wine making facilities and underground cellars.
Initially the plantings were traditional for the Yarra Valley, five clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Syrah was planted in 2004 and subsequently joined by its Rhône cousins Marsanne, Grenache and Mouverdre. Latterly plans for sweeter wines have welcomed Chenin Blanc and Muscat of Alexandria.
With fifteen acres in the Yarra Valley, there are no plans for expansion locally. Mark sees opportunities for improvement in the vineyard with greater attention to the vines throughout the growing season as they enter maturity. There are so many opportunities for variety at hand we can hardly blame the team at Pimpernel for wanting to consolidate.