Cheers for Hares at Denver

May 26th, 2023Cheers for Hares at Denver

Black-faced Suffolk sheep graze in Denver, with alpacas not far away. Nearby the grape-stripped vines are shutting down.

The Local is running a producers’ series over the next few editions. Here Kevin
Childs talks with Peter McQueen from Red Hare Estate Vineyard.

Black-faced Suffolk sheep graze in Denver, with alpacas not far away. Nearby the grape-stripped vines are shutting down.
Here, at the Red Hare Estate Vineyard, the grapes were on the vine longer thanks to late flowering, followed by wet conditions, then dry and cold.
Despite the unpredictability of the seasons, and with the passion that often seems to come from those in the wine game, owner Peter McQueen is not afraid to talk of his love of the land.
Mind you, this is from a bloke who seems unafraid to take a punt. Having lived
in Queensland and Melbourne, he took his family, including children aged four, six
and eight to the south-west of France, where he spent two years renovating a chateau.
“Through my oldest son’s schoolfriends I got involved with wine,” he says. “I’m
not a winemaker, our business is architecture, business development and real estate.”
(His wife, Kim McQueen, has a Daylesford real estate firm.)
Over 18 months the vineyard was totally renovated, reopening in July. It now
opens Friday to Monday (Thursday by appointment), has a new bar outside and a
pizza oven. From experience I can say it’s a casual and enjoyable place, with delicious
charcuterie plates and dogs welcome (up to 10 one weekend).
An extra attraction in October is the romping of black lambs in the vineyard.
“City people can get a country experience, as well as the wine.”
We turn to the name of the winery. There’s a lot of red, in the autumnal leaves
and the soil. There are hares in the vineyard. Apparently, they keep down the rabbits
and their young, they have no scent to draw the vineyard’s two dogs.
Grapes were first planted here by John Fontanella about 17 years ago, says Peter.
Just over two hectares are under vine and another 2.4 hectares are being planted. One
vineyard has pinot grigio and pinot gris and another the only prosecco in the shire, he
“This is one of the highest (level) proseccos in Australia. The cool climate means
the grapes ripen extremely slowly, leading to subtle wines.” His new vines will be
gamay and pinot noir.
The wine is, he says, “a reflection of us: very fresh and not sweet…”
Having just had 14 people pick four tonnes of grapes last weekend, Peter gets a hearty laugh out of the notion of the romance of wine. “You’re asleep by six.”
Next day the aching muscles and backs are memorable. But worth it.

Words: Kevin Childs | Image: InkdFoto

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