Ashton Hills: Distinguished for Pinot Noir
Ashton Hills is a three hectare, dry-grown vineyard that lies in the Piccadilly Valley sub-region of the Adelaide Hills on a ridge just below the summit of Mount Lofty. The estate was founded by Stephen George in 1982 and since that time it has built a reputation as one of Australia’s finest proponents of pinot noir and cool climate whites.
One of Australia’s most skilful and versatile winemakers, Stephen produces some beautifully elegant Pinot Noirs at Ashton Hills. His pioneering work at Ashton Hills was one of the catalysts for the development of Adelaide Hills as a wine region.
In the early 1980s, the Adelaide Hills wine scene was very much in its infancy, with Brian Croser leading the charge but very little other vineyard development underway. Along with Croser, Stephen was one of the key players to put Adelaide Hills on the map with his resolve to produce the best pinot noir in the country from his site in the Piccadilly Valley. Buying the land from a market gardener, Stephen recognised its immense potential, often telling friends that “where apples and cherries grow, it’s a good pointer for producing classic European style wines”.
And so the journey began. Planting his vineyard at an altitude of 570 metres and with a south facing aspect that looks towards Mt Lofty, Stephen was drawn to the fact that the site was one of the coolest areas in South Australia. Determined that this was prime real estate for his winemaking vision, Stephen started with cuttings of pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling and soon established himself as a leader in clone development for the emerging region.
For over 30 years Stephen experimented with up to 26 pinot noir clones, ultimately settling on five key clones that now make the acclaimed Reserve and Estate Pinot Noirs from Ashton Hills, plus a range of awarded sparkling and still wines. Eight carefully cultivated rows of riesling also remain in the Ashton Hills vineyard, producing a highly exclusive and limited Ashton Hills riesling each year.
Stephen has now taken a step back into semi-retirement to spend more time travelling to his beloved Burgundy, and has transferred his stake in Ashton Hills to Wirra Wirra Vineyards, with its pedigree in cool climate Adelaide Hills whites and quality McLaren Vale reds. Nonetheless, he continues to reside at his home at the winery and works closely at vintage with Winery Manager Liam Van Pelt to continue the tradition of producing benchmark wines from the Ashton Hills site.
For the best Pinot Noirs from Ashton Hills, shop at aeclub.com.my