Warwick Ross established his reputation as a film producer with some of Australia’s most popular and successful feature films, and most recently, “Red Obsession”, the award winning wine documentary about Bordeaux and China. He also holds an Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Melbourne.
While this is an unusual background for a Vigneron, Warwick’s establishment of the Portsea Estate vineyard and label in 2000, in partnership with his sister Caron Wilson-Hawley, was a natural progression for him given his love of Burgundian wines (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), his connection with the beautiful “Tintagel” property and his commitment to the Portsea/Sorrento area. His goal is to produce premium wines from grapes grown exclusively on the estate at Portsea.
Warwick’s family has had strong ties with the Portsea/Sorrento area since the late 1800’s, when his grandfather, Dr. Frederick Kiel, as a young man, travelled regularly by paddle steamer from Melbourne to spend his summers at Sorrento. The Kiel family acquired “Pembroke”, an historic limestone cottage on Melbourne Road, as their summer residence, which remained in the family until the 1970’s.
In 1956, Dr Kiel’s daughter, June, and her husband, Canadian, Ted Ross (Warwick’s mother and father), purchased “Tintagel”, a 40 acre farm fronting the Portsea Ocean Beach with undulating paddocks and sweeping views of tempestuous Bass Strait. The subsequent acquisition of the adjoining 106 acres, in the 60’s, from the Baillieu family, allowed the Ross’s to expand their cattle grazing activities with the introduction of Angus and Hereford herds.
However, in 2000, with Ted’s and June’s retirement from the business, Warwick dedicated the protected north facing paddocks to planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, based on his knowledge that the unique free draining limestone and calcareous sand that lay beneath the paddocks provided the perfect and highly sought after terroir for producing classic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.
The business of Portsea Estate is very much a family affair, with Warwick’s wife, Margot, his sister Caron, her husband Philip and many of Ted’s and June’s grandchildren involved in various aspects of the enterprise, whether planting, pruning, harvesting, design, marketing or sales.
Tim is principal winemaker and viticulturist at Portsea Estate Wines. His foray into the wine industry began in the late 1990s with studies in horticulture and practical experience in vine propagation. Vintages worked at Tarrawarra Estate, Yarra Ridge and Domaine Chandon were followed by five years of hands-on involvement at Paringa Estate under the tutelage of master winemaker Lindsay McCall, who inspired a disciplined work ethic and a passion for meticulous vineyard management.
Overseas vintage experience in Italy’s Barolo region and France’s Languedoc-Roussillon added ‘old world’ insight to ‘new world’ technique and this has been further complemented by Wine science and Viticulture studies at Charles Sturt University.
The expertise gained both in Europe and here on the Mornington Peninsula has put Tim at the forefront of Cold Climate winemaking techniques, specialising in varietals such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.