2 minutes with Leanne De Bortoli
Occupation: Manager of De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate and third generation family member
Company: De Bortoli Wines
Age: 55 (but don't feel it)
Lives: Yarra Valley
Tell us about the origins of De Bortoli?
De Bortoli Wines was started by my grandfather Vittorio De Bortoli back in 1928, only a few years after he migrated to Australia from Northern Italy. He made his way up to the Riverina in Southern NSW where he started the company in the small village of Bilbul. From there the family winery passed down to my father, Deen and is now in the hands of his four children; my three brothers Darren, Kevin, Victor and myself. My brothers and my mother Emeri still live up North at the mothership and I am the lucky one who is living down here in the beautiful Yarra Valley.
What's a normal day for you involve?
I usually start the day by checking our social media sites and responding to comments and queries. The day can be quite varied from there-on. First up, I check emails, responding to the urgent ones.
Usually meetings are held first thing in the morning whether it is catching up with restaurant/Cellar Door staff, having Google Hangouts meetings with our other Interstate branches or hosting visitors to the winery. Because of our proximity to Melbourne we do host lots of visiting journalists/wine trade/agents. This usually involves taking them on a tour, having a short tasting which can be followed by lunch in our restaurant (I know, it sounds really tough!)
Late afternoon I'll check emails and social media sites again. Sometimes the day finishes with a wine tasting with the winery team and we'll often open up wines of different styles from different countries. This gives us a chance to see what is happening out there.....as well as being a lovely way to finish the day.
You are very active with the local tourism bodies, was this a natural progression from your role at the winery?
We are not just a winery but also a tourism facility with a Cellar Door, Cheese Shop and Restaurant visited by many thousands of domestic and international tourists each year. We have always placed a big importance on being involved with the local tourism Associations, Tourism Victoria and Tourism Australia.
What are you most proud of?
When my husband Stephen Webber and I first arrived in the Yarra Valley in 1989 to run this Estate on behalf of my family, it was a small vineyard and we were set on making our mark producing the premium wines from here.
Today we have over 260Ha of vines (over 3 vineyards) in the Yarra Valley making well-renowned wines for the company as well as running a successful Restaurant, busy Cellar Door and Cheese Shop. However we are most proud of our two daughters, Kate and Sally who as fourth-genners, we hope will take an active interest in the business down the track.
How many labels are in the De Bortoli portfolio?
Too many to mention! Steve and I are forever experimenting with different varieties and styles. We have done well with the traditional varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Shiraz but we are optimistic with some of our newer plantings of Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Pinot Blanc and Favorita.
When it comes to winemaking what does 'it is harder to do nothing' mean?
Making wine starts in the vineyard. Get your viticultural practices right by working on the health of the soils, the health of the vine and growing the best fruit you can. The winemaker's role is to then gently guide the winemaking process from grape to bottle to express the characteristics of the vineyard. This means sometimes taking a hands-off approach, not tinkering with what nature has provided, which leads us to the expression of 'It is harder to do nothing'.
You can follow Leanne on Instagram @leanne.debortoli