Back in 2004, Stephen Pannell's family returned from Piedmont to find Nebbiolo growing in the northern Adelaide Hills just outside Gumeracha, on a vineyard planted by Rose and Frank Baldasso in 1999. Steve started working with the fruit in 2005. The dynamics of tannin, first and foremost, drive all of Stephen’s red-winemaking decisions, and good Nebbiolo hinges on understanding tannin. In late December 2019 Fiona and Steve signed a contract for the Baldasso’s vineyard. It was planted to all the wrong varieties bar one: five clones of Nebbiolo. A week later, it was on fire, and only through the courage of others was Protero spared. Surrounded by brave people, the Pannells knew they too had to be courageous. To that end they removed Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Viognier and planted varieties we like drinking and believe in for the region: Barbera, Dolcetto, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling. All well suited to the landscape, the region and in particular this place, Protero.
Geoff Weaver has journeyed from the big end of town to a tiny, intimate pocket of the Adelaide Hills. Back in 1988 he was appointed chief winemaker for the Hardy group of companies, where he oversaw winemaking for around 10% of Australia's grapes. In 1992 he made the break from corporate winemaking to pursue his own dream on the Lenswood vineyard that he and wife Judith had started planting a decade earlier. Those vines, some of the oldest in the Hills, are really reaping the rewards of maturity. Geoff is clearly one of Australia's elite white winemakers. His is one of Australia's best and longest-lived Chardonnays and the oft-overlooked Riesling is beautifully aromatic and mineral. Add to this a Sauvignon Blanc that can only be described as immaculate, while the wild yeast, partial barrel-fermented, oak-aged Ferus Sauvignon Blanc is a gorgeous example of this style. Against a tidal wave of Sauvignons from ‘across the ditch’, it’s comforting to know that there’s one from this particular island that can hold a torch to any of them.
Stephen Pannell is one of the most liked and respected winemakers in the business, loved also by a wine-drinking public looking for refreshing, aromatic white wines and reds that are approachable and moreish - in essence, wines that are serious while remaining irresistible to drink. S.C. Pannell has been part of the CellarHand family since the label's inception in the early 2000s. Over that time Steve has won just about every accolade going, including a second Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy and the title of Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year. Steve has also bought a vineyard he’s loved for years and acquired a winery and cellar door in the heart of McLaren Vale, from where he continues his quest for great “wines that are grown, not made” – wines that are delicious, that taste of where they're from and that are a natural partner for the food and lifestyle of their home.