- Study at Deakin
- Campus life
- Industry and community
- About Deakin
David Pettavel, the pioneering vigneron from the 19th Century who turned Geelong into one of Australia’s premier grape producing regions, would be chuffed to know that his old stomping ground around Waurn Ponds is not only producing world class grapes again, but world class wine-makers.
Graduates from Deakin University’s wine science program – which is housed in the Geelong Technology Precinct on the Waurn Ponds campus - are being sought by wineries all over the globe.
“Our mission is to land winemakers on their feet anywhere in the world,” said Professor Duncan McGillivery, the Director of the Cool Climate Wines Program.
“Already we are developing a reputation for the quality of our graduates in the area of cool climate wines and this was most recently re-enforced when Andrew Santarosa was snapped up by Domaine Chandon as winemaker.”
“This is a high achievement indeed but typical of the employment opportunities afforded our students.”
Paul Chambers, president of Winegrowers Federation of Australia, says the Deakin program - as successful as it has been - is still a largely untapped resource.
“It is the premier cool climate winemaking course in Australia,” Mr Chambers said.
“It has already proven itself a great asset for Geelong and for Victoria.”
“Equally, I think the international potential is open-ended.”
“As its reputation grows around the world, it will prove a great asset for Australia too as we market our expertise internationally.”
The South Koreans, who are also developing their own cool climate wine industry, have taken a close interest in Deakin’s work, with students undertaking sommelier courses at Waurn Ponds.
Mr Chambers said as well as promoting good science, the university’s vineyards were producing quality grapes and wines.
“As the vines have matured, the vineyard is now beginning to produce excellent wines and these will only get better over time,” Mr Chamber said.
Robin Brockett, the chief winemaker at the Scotchmans Hill winery on the Bellarine Peninsula supports this view of the quality of the grapes.
“That particular area has a unique combination of soil and climate,” Mr Brockett said.
“It is also quite cool, there is a cold wind funnel, and that really brings out the flavour in the grapes.”
“The wines that are looking good this year are chardonnay, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc.”
Scotchman’s Hill staff members assist in maintaining the university vineyards, and the link between the two became even stronger when Deakin graduate Marcus Holt became Robin Brockett’s assistant winemaker.
“Marcus is one of our first graduates,” said Nyall Condon, the Waurn Ponds Estate winery manager.
“He went to Germany where he worked with Dr Loosen who make some of the best Rieslings in the world and when he came back to Australia, he got the job at Scotchmans.”
David Pettavel would be looking down on all these developments kindly. A Swiss émigré, upon arriving in Port Phillip Bay in 1842 he immediately recognised in the hills behind Geelong a fine place in which to grow grapes and produce wine.
He returned to Switzerland to recruit more wine-makers and soon turned the area into one of the most productive grape growing regions in Australia.
In the late 19th Century, a combination of economic depression, changing consumer preferences and disease is said to have killed the industry off.
The first sign of revival came in the late 1960’s with the establishment of the Idyll vineyard in the Moorabool Valley and Mt Anakie vineyard at Anakie.
Since then, vineyards have sprung up in that Valley, on the Bellarine Peninsula and again around Waurn Ponds, such that The Age newspaper now rates the Geelong region as in the top five places in Australia in which to grow cold climate chardonnay grapes.
As the local never tire of telling you, the pinot noir is not bad either.
So Geelong and thereabouts is well and truly back on the Australian, even international wine map, both through the grapes it produces and the talented young winemakers emerging from Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus.
For further information about Waurn Ponds Estate wines, or the Deakin wine sciences courses generally contact (03) 5227 2143 or firstname.lastname@example.org