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About | Tambo Wine


create new classic wine


An interest in wine developed from a misspent youth living and working in parts of Europe where wine was an everyday beverage.

Classic and everyday wines were enjoyed in different parts of Europe and vineyards, regions and wineries were visited.

From a background in farming in south east Queensland it was a revelation that wines of perceived quality, classic wines, could be produced that far from the equator with such a variable climate.

Over this time a belief developed that classic wines of a world standard could be produced in Australia.


Back in Australia a career in Town Planning was begun and developed and the interest in wine continued.

During this period modern Australian wine producers were showing the world that ripe varietal fruit flavours were more attractive to consumers than winemaking.

The interest and the belief in wine developed from reading about, drinking, researching, talking to producers, marketers and visiting vineyards to developing a business plan and having it reviewed.

This was getting serious and very sobering.

Sobering in that if the interest was not pursued you would die wondering and if the interest was pursued the capital invested would be largely immobile.

Early Research

Early research showed a strong correlation between classic wine producing areas and relatively consistent intermediate temperature.

In addition to relatively consistent intermediate temperature sunlight hours in autumn became a focus for site selection..


The search began for a site with the capacity to produce, not an imitation old world classic wine, but a new classic wine.


Driven by data in relation to relatively consistent intermediate temperature and sunlight hours in autumn the part of south east Australia that stood out was the Gippsland Lakes area of East Gippsland.

The mountains to the north, ocean water and Tasmania to the south combined to produce a rainshadow. This had the effect of increasing sunlight hours and the proximity to the water mass of the ocean and the Gippsland Lakes increased the humidity in the air and reduced temperature variability.

Parts of this area had the characteristics of a cool temperate maritime rainshadow.

Driven by the mantra go to a cool area and find a warm site the search was further refined to include a north east facing slope with low soil fertility.


A turn out paddock of a former dairy farm between the Gippsland Lakes and the mountains in south east Australia ticked all the boxes with afternoon sea breezes further moderating the daily temperature.

We had found our site and future home.

The site looking south to the Gippsland Lakes The site looking south to the Gippsland Lakes


Cool Maritime Rainshadow Terroir Expression


Tambo vineyard is located on a north east facing slope in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in south east Australia.

The cool maritime climate with relatively consistent intermediate temperature allows the fruit to slowly build complexity and purity.

The slope shelters the fruit from the wind, captures a higher amount of sunlight, and moderates yield.

Low fertility soil over a sandstone/limestone base further reduces yield and provides a mineral dimension to the fruit.

Tambo vineyard in the Bumberrah hills Tambo Vineyard in the Bumberrah Hills

The Gippsland Lakes area receives an average of 1697 hours during the growing and ripening period making it one of the sunniest regions in south east Australia ensuring even ripe fruit flavours.


Full details of the vineyard and viticultural practices are outlined below.


Bought in 1993 and planted in 1994


Seven kilometres north of the Gippsland Lakes and 16 kilometres north of Bass Strait in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in South East Australia.


Between 85 and 105 metres above sea level (AHD) on a wind sheltered north east facing slope of 1 in 10.

37.49 degrees south.

1697 hours.


The topsoil is fine sandy clay loam with low fertility but rich in minerals.
The sub soil is predominantly shattered quartz in a gradational mottled clay profile over sandstone/ limestone.
The eroded top soil varies between 10 inches (25cm) to 16 inches (40 cm) in depth. The soil is derived from unconsolidated Tertiary and Pleistocene flood plain deposits of gravel, sand, silt and clay.
Much of the southern topography and sedimentary top-soils of the site originate from the Neoproterozoic era, a period between 800 and 500 million years ago, where the receding oceans and glacial movements that linked Australia with Antarctica deposited silt, sand and carbonate in large marine sedimentary basins, forming chalk, limestone, sandstone and shale.
These soil characteristics are increasingly contributing a site specific mineral element in the fruit character as the vines mature and colonise the soil mass.

Part of the chardonnay paddock from the east. Part of the chardonnay paddock from the east.


Area of planting
Chardonnay – 8.6 acres (3.44hectares)
Pinot Noir – 1 acre (0.4 hectares)
Sauvignon Blanc – 0.9 acres (0.26 hectares)
Cabernet Sauvignon – 2.2 acres (0.88 hectares)
Total area 12.7 acres (5.08 hectares)

Planting density
2500 plants per hectare (1000 per acre)

Cropping levels
1.5 to 2.1 tonnes /acre (22.5 to 31.5 hl/ha)

Hand management typically involves:

  • Pre pruning assessment and replacement of cordons to ensure even spacing of buds;
  • hand pruning and selecting bud numbers to suit soil volume, vine vigour and capacity;
  • shoot thinning to open up the fruit zone and provide sunlight exposure appropriate to the variety and the desired wine style;
  • wire lifting to maximise sunlight capture and minimise shading of the fruit;
  • removal of unwanted buds and suckers to reduce competition;
  • selective leaf removal from parts of the fruit zone in certain years;
  • removal of fruit to encourage more even ripening in parts of the Pinot Noir;
  • trimming of parts of the vineyard to concentrate energy to ripen the fruit;
  • sampling of fruit to assess sugar and physiological ripeness;
  • pre harvest removal of sub premium fruit;
  • selective hand harvesting and removal of sub premium fruit;
  • hand sorting the fruit; and
  • spreading the residue of the winemaking process in less vigorous areas of the vineyard.



Prior to planting the vegetation in the area, the soil type and depth and vigour of the pasture grasses on the site were assessed in relation to the requirements of the varieties and clones (types of varieties) selected accordingly.

A further investigation was conducted with vineyard managers from comparable cool climate areas in terms of the preferred vineyard requirements for the variety and clone. Consideration was given to the capacity of the clone to consistently deliver wine judged as being of gold medal quality.

A final assessment of the suitability of the variety and clone to this cool climate maritime area was conducted with the assistance of the Victorian Department of Primary Industries in relation to the genetic history of the clone and the results of the field trials.

With the assistance of a viticultural consultant with wide experience in comparable cool areas the varieties and clones were finally chosen and sourced.
The following clones were chosen:


Clones – 50 percent P58 and 50 percent I10 V1


Unknown clone sourced from the Mornington Peninsula


Clones – 50 percent MV6 and the rest D2V5; D5V12; and G5V15


Clone SA 126


The varieties were planted in the vineyard in relation to the amount, intensity and light profile of the sunlight required to produce the desired wine style. Factors such as the waveband of the sunlight captured at various parts of the day, the orientation and slope of the land, the exposure to afternoon sea breezes and the north and west sun were considered.

Chardonnay was planted in the south east to capture the less intense early light and to capture the afternoon sea breezes.

Sauvignon Blanc was next planted with a range of aspects to allow the development of a modern Australian Sauvignon style.

Pinot Noir was planted in a sheltered location with a mixture of early afternoon heat and sea breeze capture and a spread of clones to suit the varied soil types.

Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in the most wind sheltered north and west facing location to maximise sunlight capture and heat summation. Parts of this location received drainage from outside the vineyard area which allowed the vines to function longer into the autumn.


Vertical shoot positioning with a low cordon to keep the vine functioning into the early evening.


Irrigation is kept to a minimum with applications at flowering and at colour change to increase the number of small berries. In drier and hotter years irrigation is selectively applied to minimise stress and to maintain vine health


Increasingly low impact, organic outcomes are being trialled and implemented as our understanding of the site develops.

Abi helping put out grape marc as compost Abi helping put out grape marc as compost

Tambo vineyard
Throughout the year

September, October:

The vintage year starts, when the buds and shoots start to push into beautiful green shoots

Early season growth Early Season Growth

.A lush soft time.

November, December:

The fruit buds form and flower. Fruit set depends greatly on warm days and gentle breezes. Mildews from humidity are a concern. The vines grow upwards at a rate of up to a foot a week. Suckers are removed, shoot thinning starts and the first wire lifted.

A time of promise.

January, February:

Regular rainfall, spraying for mildews, and canopy work continues. Veraison occurs, when the grapes change colour, and the birds can find the fruit easily. Monitoring of the fruit ripeness starts and the first pick of the Chardonnay occurs. Bottling of last seasons white wines.

The tempo starts to increase.

March, April:

The sugars are increasing in the fruits and usually, early in March, the harvest continues with workers coming in to assist in the handpicking. Late nights in the winery are due to the diligence in processing the fruit, and meticulous cleaning of equipment. The coffee machine and music keeps everyone going.

Smells of fermentation fill the winery

May, June:

Winemaking, bottling the red wines from the previous year, cleaning barrels for the new wines, following up on marketing, and planning for festivals in the summer keep everyone busy. Pre pruner comes and goes and hand pruning starts in June.

Pruning marks the start of the new season.

July, August:

Pressure is off. Pruning takes place over the winter months, and assessing improvements to the vineyard and winery. A time of thick gloves, beanies and working close to nature and the sheep enter the vineyard to maintain the grasses and provide fertiliser.

Winter birds, young hares and big skies. The vineyard rests

Include on the Winemaking page image 2 with these tag line 2 Alastair Butt winemaker together with the other rotating images currently within Allocation but delete image of Al looking in to a tank and add current image 4 within the home sequence.


Create new classic wine

Great wines have a basis of fruit weight, concentration, length and sense of place – characters which can be formed only in the vineyard.
Our primary task at Tambo Wine is to grow grapes which express the site and take the essence of that fruit and then preserve it as wine.
The character of the fruit from Tambo vineyard reflects the relatively soft temperate maritime climate.
The winemaking starts in the vineyard monitoring the fruit, assessing the balance of fruit and tannin ripeness, acid structure and flavour development.
The picking decision is shared with the winemaker and the grape grower based on an understanding of the year and the possible wine style.
The winemaking style employs scrupulous hygiene, intuitive rather than formulaic methods and sensitivity to the nature of each year’s fruit.

A range of techniques are employed including:

  • gentle pressing to minimise coarseness and maintain fruit purity;
  • native yeasts to allow site expression;
  • refrigeration to control the temperature of ferments, retain aroma and to naturally settle out coarseness;
  • gravity transfer under gas to minimise disruption;
  • small batch ferments to maximise control of style and wine character; and
  • restrained oak barrel use to match the softness of the fruit.
Alastair Butt winemaker

Alastair Butt winemaker

Each year is a new journey with nature to match the fruit character with winemaking and each year has the excitement of discovery.

Each year develops an increased understanding of the fruit from different areas of the vineyard and different times of picking.

wine making in east gippsland Wine making in east gippsland

Perspective and patience are critical in working vine by vine, barrel by barrel, year by year.

Maturing wine

Maturing wine



Tambo Wine

A combination of pure varietal expression and intensity of flavour permeates all Tambo wines.
James Halliday

The wines

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Chardonnay

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Chardonnay 2012
James Halliday

  • An elegant wine, making its point quietly but succinctly, white peach, nectarine and fig contributing 90% of the flavour, lees and oak 10%. Nicely done.

Rated 94 points

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Chardonnay 2011
Gippsland Wine Show 2013

  • Gold Medal 96 Points
  • Best Chardonnay 96 Points


Tambo Gippsland Lakes Chardonnay 2008
James Halliday

  • Bright, pale green-quartz; a beautifully made wine, with very subtle winemaker inputs into a delectably fresh and light mix of stone fruit and grapefruit, oak irrelevant.

Rated 92 points

Gippsland Wine Show 2010

  • Top Gold Medal
  • Trophy -Best Chardonnay
  • Trophy Gippsland White Wine of the Year


Tambo Gippsland Lakes Pinot Noir

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Pinot Noir 2012
James Halliday

  • A delicious wine, managing to present perfectly ripened and generous fruit with very modest alcohol, and, at the same time, introduce a subtext of spice and forest floor. Attention to detail has paid major dividends.

Rated 95 points

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Pinot Noir 2009
James Halliday

  • Bright, clear purple-crimson; a powerful but not heavy-handed pinot, with multiple layers of black fruits, and a long, supple finish. Top gold Gippsland Wine Show 10. Will be long lived.

Rated 94 points

Gippsland Wine Show 2010

  • Top Gold Medal


Tambo Gippsland Lakes Cabernet Sauvignon

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
James Halliday

  • Good colour; a medium-bodied cabernet that improves each time you retaste it, easy to miss the first time through. Its cassis fruit is balanced and lengthened by fine, but ripe tannins, oak playing some role.

Rated 93 points

Gippsland Wine Show 2012

  • Best Cabernet Sauvignon 90 Points


Tambo Gippsland Lakes Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
James Halliday

  • Obviously the colour, while good, is more developed than that of the ’11, and the wine is significantly richer, indeed verging on medium- to full-bodied, with grainy/savoury tannins threaded through the blackcurrant fruit; the oak, too, makes a positive contribution. Exceptional value.

Rated 93 points

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
James Halliday

  • Bright crimson-purple; the fragrant cassis-accented bouquet has just a hint of spice, all pointing to the cool climate, but neither on the bouquet of juicy red fruits or the palate is there any sign of under-ripe fruit. A really enjoyable, uncomplicated, wine that may given even more pleasure down the track if you are tempted to leave some, drink some.

Rated 93 points

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Sauvignon Blanc

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Sauvignon Blanc 2013
James Halliday

  • A concentrated and complex wine, the barrel fermentation adding texture on the plus side, and shaving back some of the brighter varietal fruits on the minus side; the ultimate resolution of this mathematical formula is a wine with both textural and flavour complexity, and will develop well in bottle.

Rated 93 points

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Sauvignon Blanc 2012
James Halliday

  • Pale straw-green; the fragrant bouquet of citrus and white peach (intruding into early picked chardonnay territory, but doing so with elan) leads into a beautifully juicy palate that transcends normal stainless steel cold-fermented sauvignon blanc. How much is vineyard wizardry, how much winery, really doesn’t matter. Great value.

Rated 94 points

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Unwooded Chardonnay

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Unwooded Chardonnay 2013
James Halliday

  • The absence of oak enhances the intensity and precision of the fruit flavours, with grapefruit to the fore, apple and stone fruits close thereafter; the generous alcohol means a greater depth of flavour without diminishing the varietal character or the precision already discussed.

Rated 90 points

Tambo Gippsland Lakes Unwooded Chardonnay 2009
James Halliday

  • Everything an unwooded chardonnay should be: bracing, fresh and long in the mouth; grapefruit, apple and stone fruit intermingling before the crisp, dry finish

Rated 90 points

Bill, Pam and Alastair Gippsland Wine Show

Bill, Pam and Alastair Gippsland Wine Show