Stonier Wines was established in 1978 by Brian Stonier and his wife, Noel, when they had the foresight to plant a chardonnay vineyard on their property at Merricks. They believed the cool southern edge of the Mornington Peninsula would provide the right conditions for premium chardonnay.
Pinot noir soon followed in 1982 and over the past three decades the Stonier vineyards have been carefully expanded to include other selected areas across the Mornington Peninsula. Stonier’s winemaker, Mike Symons, began his winemaking journey by completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Adelaide University before joining Petaluma in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills in 1989.
In 1994, after two vintages in Bordeaux, France, and completing post-graduate studies in Viticulture and Oenology at Montpellier’s ENSA, Mike became a senior winemaker with Petaluma and assumed responsibility for its South Australian vineyards. Moving to Italy in 1996, he worked for the famous Antinori family, overseeing the winemaking in their Tuscan Estates until he returned to Australia in 1999. Since his return, he continued his involvement with Petaluma, until his appointment to Stonier in 2008.
With access to some of the Peninsula’s oldest vines, Mike said he felt privileged to oversee such a precious vineyard resource. He said, “The region’s soil and climate are ideal for producing pinot noir and chardonnay, and the Stonier wines are getting better and better as the vines mature and find that natural balance.”
“Pinot noir has found its home amongst the rolling hills of the Mornington Peninsula. The characteristic bright fruit flavours, which develop under the Peninsula’s cool conditions, exhibit a rare balance between generosity and subtlety. We always strive to find the best natural expression of fruit from our vineyards so we can keep evolving the Stonier quality and character that has been so well established over the past 20-30 years,” he said.
Mike’s emphasis is to produce pinot noir and chardonnay wines of intrinsic structure, elegance and complexity. Whilst the home of Stonier is Merricks, it has several long-term vineyards located across the different sub-regions of the Peninsula. Each
meso-climate brings its own unique character to the vineyard’s fruit. As one of Australia’s first cool climate pinot noir producers, it has a wealth of history and experience to draw upon.
“To truly maximise expression for a single vineyard,” he said, “you interfere as little as possible with the vines and gently coax the vineyard to its full potential.”
The striking Stonier winery, designed by well-known Melbourne architect Daryl Jackson, whose work extends to the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, was opened to the public in 1991 by the then Victorian Governor, Dr. Davis McCaughey. In his opening speech he likened the Stonier winery to a cathedral where “hope for the future is built upon good workmanship in the present.”