Nestled in the heart of Victoria’s Pyrenees region is Dogrock Winery, a small yet mighty producer of some of the country’s most revered sustainably produced wines.
With a 5-red star Halliday rating and Certificates of Excellence from Real Review, wine lovers travel from far and wide to sample Dogrock Winery’s ultra-premium batches of Riesling, Chardonnay, Grenache and more.
Better yet, Dogrock’s award-winning varietals are sustainably produced, whether that be through winemaking practices or the environmental responsibility of the business itself. Dogrock Winery’s buildings and dwellings have been off grid since inception, while the business recently installed an electric vehicle (EV) charging station on premises so visitors can charge their vehicles while they sample Dogrock’s premium wines.
Dogrock Winery co-owners and winemakers Allen and Andrea Hart spoke to LuxWineLife about their award-winning wines, their upcoming 2022 harvests and much, much more!
What was the inspiration behind the brand? How did you get started?
Allen: Dogrock is a name associated with this region as my mother grew up on the adjacent property to what was Dogrock for 150 years. The new owners of that property changed the name, so we decided it was perfect for our wine label…and we are dog lovers after all! There is a rock that resembles a dog on that property too, but it is not open to the public.
What makes Dogrock Winery unique?
From early on, we knew the vineyard would produce wines of incredible quality and terroir. A visiting Spanish winemaker who was here for our vintage in 2011 described our Grenache as the best example of terroir he had ever seen, which was a big call.
The vineyards are over 300m above sea level and contained in a valley that allows sun to the last minute of the day, so we tend to ripen our fruit well before nearby vineyards. We also have an eclectic mix of varieties we have selected to match this climate – we will be the first Australian winery to produce the Iberian white variety Azal, while only a few others have Arinto.
We are also one of just a few wineries to be entirely off grid for power and we have been this way for 23 years. The business has also just installed facilities at our cellar door to charge an electric vehicle with a view to the future, and we hope to move to an EV ourselves in 2021 so that’s exciting. We believe we are the first winery to provide this from off grid power in Australia.
Tell us a little bit about your wines – what are your best sellers?
We have found that Grenache, Riesling and Shiraz tend to be the favourites. Over the years, we have collected quite a few trophies and very high scores from these – for example, a 97 was given to our 2018 Degraves Road Reserve Shiraz by James Halliday. The 2016 Grenache was also a trophy winner at the 2017 Victorian Wine Show for Best Other Red. The Riesling has similar credentials across the years and is made to a very consistent style. Having spent a vintage in the Rhone Valley in 2003 at a famous Shiraz maker, many people comment on the European styles of wine we produce.
Who is your ideal customer?
We find that fine wine lovers in general appreciate the medium bodied styles we aim for, such as people who are not afraid to try a Graciano or Touriga Nacional and step into a whole new world of fine wine. In general, the Australian wine public are getting more adventurous and welcoming of new flavours and wine experiences which is such good news.
What are your big goals for next 12 to 24 months?
Our young vines of Fiano, Azal and Arinto are due to provide small harvests in vintage 2022 so we are super excited about making some limited volumes of those wines.
Our more established vineyards are all 20+ years old now, so we know the quality and consistency of wines will help drive the brand to new heights in the foreseeable future. We also have a collaboration with two other wineries close by on what we call Rotundone Road, so we hope to build on that as well.
How have you survived/innovated during COVID-19?
We were very fortunate to have moved to online sales in December 2019, so the timing was perfect. Across the 2020 year, we had reasonable sales as most of our wine club was sitting in Melbourne suffering the consequences of the pandemic. We had one of our biggest weekly sales in August 2020 when the Halliday scores were released so it was a bit of a lifesaver. As we tend to do everything ourselves, from picking the fruit to making the wine and bottling on estate, we were not burdened with weekly wages which also helped a lot.
What advice do you have for other businesses who might be going through a challenging time?
All you can do is hang in there and try to keep working hard. The wine industry is very competitive but if you make a great product at an appropriate price, then sooner or later things will fall your way. There are no shortcuts, it’s simply a journey that ultimately you either love or leave. We love what we do so for us there is no work.
How can people connect with the brand (website, social media, channels, links to business)?
For a small cellar door with maximum impact, explore Dogrock Winery in Victoria’s Pyrenees. With an exciting future featuring new Portuguese varieties and innovative sustainability, Dogrock Winery is looking to pave the way for environmentally responsible wine making.