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Jackson family expands vineyard holdings in Australia

In keeping with its focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards worldwide, Jackson Family Wines has expanded its holdings for these grapes with the acquisition of a prized site in Australia.

The vineyard is called Bastard Hill due to its steep slope and high altitude

The purchase follows the California-headquartered wine group’s purchase of Australia’s Giant Steps in August 2020 – a Yarra Valley producer renowned chiefly for its single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and founded in 1997 by Phil Sexton.

Two year’s since that acquisition, it was announced yesterday that Jackson Family Wines, through Giant Steps, had bought Yarra Valley’s Bastard Hill vineyard, which is a 31-hectare property with 13 hectares of vines, planted exclusively to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The vineyard’s expressive name is derived from its steep slope and high altitude, ranging in elevation from 300-400m.

Located along Prices Road, Bastard Hill is a celebrated site in the Yarra planted in the late 1980s by “viticultural legend” Ray Guerin.

Dedicated initially to the production of high-end sparkling wine, the site was quickly recognised for its potential to produce top quality still wines, releasing the Bastard Hill Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines in the 1990s.

Regarded as one of the great Chardonnay sites in Australia, the vineyard was also historically a source for Hardy’s Eileen Hardy Chardonnay.

Commenting on the acquisition, Giant Steps’ founder Phil Sexton said, “As passionate owners and farmers of some of the best premium wine producing sites in the Yarra Valley, we are excited to add this vineyard to the Giant Steps single vineyard family and return this unique vineyard to the iconic status it rightly deserves.”

“The dramatic landscape of Bastard Hill reflects viticulture at its most extreme,” added Christopher Jackson, second-generation proprietor of Jackson Family Wines.

Continuing, he said, “The extremity of the site sets the stage for Giant Steps to continue to tell the story of the Yarra through the lens of transparent varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.”

Concluding, he commented, “We are thrilled to see the winery’s capacity for site expression unfold, as it breathes new life into one of Australia’s most fiercely pedigreed sites.”

Bastard Hill joins the “iconic” Applejack vineyard as the second single vineyard site in the Upper Yarra Ranges owned by Giants Steps.

In addition to these sites, Giant Steps owns Sexton vineyard in Gruyere, manages Tarraford vineyard under a long-term lease agreement, and works closely with growers from the Primavera and Wombat Creek vineyards.

Giant Steps has assumed management of the Bastard Hill vineyard under the guidance of its head of winemaking and viticulture, Melanie Chester, and viticulture manager, Ashley Wood.

“The reputation of this vineyard precedes it, so it’s the perfect fit in our pursuit of the iconic sites for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Yarra Valley,” said Melanie Chester.

She added, “Our skillful and dedicated vineyard team are perfectly suited to embrace the opportunity to grow premium grapes from one of the most established Upper Yarra vineyards. We can’t wait for vintage 2023 where we can start understanding its potential in the Giant Steps house.”

Ashley Wood and Melanie Chester at the newly-acquired Bastard Hill vineyard

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