The Ellis family, from left, Ruth, Rob, John and Ann, own the Hanging Rock Winery, which won a national prize last month.

By Colin MacGillivray

Newham’s Hanging Rock Winery is the toast of the country after taking out a category prize at the recent National Wine Show of Australia.

Judges picked the winery’s ‘Jim Jim Three’ 2021 vintage pinot gris gewürztraminer riesling blend as the best blended white wine in the country.

Hanging Rock Winery sales and marketing general manager Ruth Ellis said the award was a huge result for her family, which was also celebrating 40 years of ownership of the Newham estate.

Ms Ellis said the National Wine Show of Australia represented the pinnacle of the country’s wine industry.

“The awards are invitation only. You have to have won gold or silver at another national show to get in,” she said.

“Each of the state capitals have their own shows, which are national shows where anyone can enter from around the country. You had to have been in the top five per cent at one of those shows to be allowed to enter.”

Ms Ellis said Hanging Rock Winery had already seen a spike in wine sales since its win.

“Internationally it’s probably not as exciting as, say, the best shiraz, but locally it does a lot to help raise our profile and sell a lot of that wine,” she said.

“Since we’ve won the trophy we’ve just about sold out of that product. A lot of people have heard about it and jumped onto it.”

Ms Ellis said the award capped four decades of hard work for her parents, who founded the winery in 1982.

She said her father John previously won a National Wine Show of Australia while working at Tisdall Wines.

“He was the first one in Australia to make a cabernet merlot, and the first year he did that he won a trophy for the red blend at the national show,” she said.

“[The Jim Jim Three] was my brother Rob’s 10th vintage as the winemaker since taking over from our dad.

“It’s his first national trophy, which is great to add a bit of cred to his reign. It means dad can’t come back at him and lean over his shoulder. They’ve got one apiece.”

Winemaker Rob Ellis with the National Wine Show of Australia trophy for best white blend.

Ms Ellis said the award was recognition of decades of work in the Macedon Ranges region.

“The photos of not just the winery but how the town looked [when my parents moved here] are pretty amazing. It was just us surrounded by paddocks and now we look over all these other houses,” she said.

“The Macedon Ranges is the coldest grape-growing region in continental Australia, which means we do aromatic white varieties really well, because they grow perfectly in cool-to-cold climates.

“These vines are all about 30 years old now, which I’m sure is a factor, and all the love and care that goes into them means it works out to be a wonderful blend.

“We’ve been around long enough and won enough trophies over time that this is sort of the cherry on top of the cake.”

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