Owner winemakers Dominic and Krystina Morris make an impressive winemaking team. Both bring to Pondalowie unique skills and experiences gained from their strong wine-industry backgrounds. Krystina has a degree in Oenology from Adelaide University and has worked as a winemaker in South Australia’s Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale regions as well as in the Alentejo and Douro regions of Portugal. Dominic has experience in many aspects of the wine industry but found working in red wine production the most rewarding. He bolstered the knowledge gained from working in the red wine cellars of some of Australia’s long established premium wineries with vintages in France and the Alentejo and Douro wine regions of Portugal. When the Douro Valley winery he worked for, Quinta do Crasto, won “International Red Wine of the Year” for their 1995 Douro Red wine, Dominic was invited to continue working for them as winemaker. He accepted and now flies three times a year to Portugal to oversee the winemaking at Quinta do Crasto and has helped them achieve their reputation as one of the leading table wine producers in Portugal.

Winemaking Philosophy

The Pondalowie vineyards at Bridgewater on Loddon in Central Victoria were established by Dominic and Krystina with particular wines and wine styles in mind. Their vision dictated the percentage of each vineyard planted to Shiraz, Tempranillo, Cabernet, Malbec and Viognier. The complete control they have in the management of the vineyards allow wines such as the ‘Vineyard Blend’ and Special Release wines to be initiated while the grapes are still on the vine.

In the winery, a modern twist to many traditional European winemaking techniques ensure that the wines have complexity and depth. Co-fermentation is a winemaking technique used by Dominic and Krystina to produce their multi-varietal wines. Harvesting and then fermenting two or more grape varieties together integrates the individual varietal flavours and produces superior balance and texture in the resulting wine. This technique is used to produce the ‘Vineyard Blend’, Shiraz Viognier and whenever possible the Cabernet Malbec wines. Malbec tends to ripen earlier than Cabernet so it is not always possible to co-ferment this wine.

Once harvested the grapes are crushed gently, to retain some whole berries, into fermentation bins of half-tonne capacity. Fermentation may commence naturally in the freshly crushed grapes before being inoculated with cultured yeast strains selected specifically for each grape variety. Once active, the ferment is ‘dumped’ from the half-tonne bins into either one of the fermenters specially designed by Dominic and Krystina or into a stainless steel open fermenter. The dumping action enhances the colour extraction from the young ferment and ensures a thorough mixing of the various half-tonne ferments, especially when varieties are being co-fermented. Continual tasting of the ferment determines the frequency of hand plunging, ‘drain and return’ and skin contact treatments the ferment receives. Generally, the ferment is left ‘on skins’ for between 6 to 24 days, during which the temperature is allowed to increase from around 20°C to 30°C. Malolactic bacteria are inoculated during the final stages of the primary fermentation.

Pressing is done through a stainless steel basket press with free-run and light pressings blended immediately. Heavy pressings are kept separate and blended back on taste. The wines finish malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks before being racked to a combination of French and American oak barrels, except of course for the “MT” Un-oaked wine which remains in tank. The oaked wines spend 18 months in oak and, based on tasting, are racked up to 4 times before being blended, lightly fined if required with traditional egg-white and bottled using minimal filtration. Six months bottle maturation in a temperature controlled warehouse is provided prior to release.