When Robert and Vivienne Ritchie planted grapevines in 1968, they probably didn't realise that they were creating what would become one of the best-known wineries in one of the newest wine regions in Victoria.
They had chosen a picturesque site for their new vineyard, with views of Mt. Buller in the Upper Goulburn region, and it would take another thirty-five years before the area would receive Geographical Indication (GI) status as a
recognised Australian wine region. In 1982, the couple constructed the full-fledged winery operation, and their daughter Rosalind took on the job of winemaker. Two years later, their son David returned home from university and started working in the winery and vineyards as well, and Delatite Wines has been a family affair ever since.
Specialising in cool-climate varietals, Delatite Wines has earned a reputation for producing excellent riesling, pinot gris, and gewürztraminer wines. James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion has rated it the only red, 5-star winery in
the Upper Goulburn wine region since 2010, and each of the winery’s flagship white wines has received major trophies over the past two years. More recently, the winery opened a cellar door in Mansfield. About a ninety-minute drive from Melbourne, the cellar door welcomes visitors to taste its wines paired with organic foods from the region, and, on many Friday and Saturday nights, it features local musicians playing live.
Rosalind retired from her post as winemaker in 2005, and now David manages the winery alongside winemaker Andy Browning. David also works as the winery’s vigneron, and he and Andy work closely together. David played an
integral role in the winery’s decision to grow all of its grapes using biodynamic practices in 2004, and is committed to producing wines in a traditional, sustainable manner.
Today, Delatite Wines grows the majority of its own grapes, makes and bottles its wines onsite, and handles its own domestic and export sales. Currently, the winery exports around ten percent of its wine, and it focuses the majority
of its attention on selling direct to its customers in Victoria.
David describes his philosophy as “leaving the land in a better state than when I first began managing it,” and he believes in farming biodynamically produces wines with more intense flavours and better structure. For instance,
he has seen vineyard soils recover more rapidly since implementing biodynamic farming methods; this makes for stronger grapevines and better quality grapes.
Since 2008, Delatite Wines has used only wild yeasts to make its wines, and David said that this helps the wines to express their terroir. “Especially the trio of aromatic whites,” said David. “The riesling, pinot gris, and gewürztraminer
varieties truly do reflect the area they’re grown in.” About sixty-five to seventy percent of the winery’s production is white wine, and the winery’s range of dry red wines includes pinot noir, shiraz, tempranillo, and two Bordeaux type blends. David has a deep appreciation for Spain’s Rioja and France’s Rhone regions, and the winery has recently planted two hectares of tempranillo and graciano vines. The winery has planted them on phylloxera-resistant
rootstock (along with six hectares of white varieties) as insurance against this destructive vine pest.
“Mansfield,” said David, “is surrounded by mountains, alpine rivers and lakes full of fish; it produces wonderful beef, lamb, fruit and, of course, wine – a truly bountiful and beautiful region.” Delatite Wines welcomes wine-lovers to visit its cellar door, and tours of the vineyards and winery are offered by appointment.