Our Story

The Vintner’s Daughter creates unique premium small-batch wines that reflect the land or ‘terroir’. We are about quality not quantity and so you won’t find our wines in many bottle shops. As our stock is limited, the best way to ensure you don’t miss out on a release is to join our wine club.

The People

Photo of winemaker Stephanie Helm

Stephanie Helm—Winemaker

Stephanie started making wine when she was nine years old at her parent’s winery and vineyard at Helm Wines. She was running her own winery at The Vintner’s Daughter vineyard alongside her husband before she turned 30.

During her school years Stephanie produced award winning wines under her own label—the Stephanie Collection. Her 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon won the Trophy for best Cabernet at the 1999 Murrumbateman Cool Climate Wine Show when she was just 13. After finishing school, Stephanie went on to complete an Arts/Law degree at the Australian National University while continuing to help at the family winery. However in 2011, Stephanie realised her true passion was wine and began a Bachelor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University – making the Dean’s list for outstanding academic performance in both her first and last years. She is also a Graduate of the prestigious 2010 Advanced Wine Assessment Course.

Stephanie is now pursuing her dream of making her unique style of wines at The Vintner’s Daughter and has received many awards and recognition under this label. She balances her role as a winemaker alongside her role as mum to her two young children. She has a love for rural living, self-sufficiency and incorporates these philosophies into her winemaking and business approaches. She loves nothing more than guiding customers through a tasting at the on-site cellar door and seeing their enjoyment in the products she’s created.

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Benjamin Osborne—Vigneron

Benjamin Osborne, a qualified horticulturist and landscaper is the glue that holds the winery and business together. The wine wouldn’t make it into the bottle without Ben’s contribution as viticulturist, cellar hand, engineer, plumber, mechanic, warehouse manager, stock clerk and numerous other jobs. Ben was previously the vineyard manager at Helm Wines for ten years. Ben is a perfectionist and is meticulous about his care of the vines to ensure full‑flavoured disease-free fruit. Ben has worked hard to bring The Vintner’s Daughter vineyard up to his high standards and is experimenting with natural methods to improve vine health and vineyard biodiversity e.g. through establishing insectariums to support beneficial insects, composting and mulching under vine, incorporating cover crops between the rows and the integration of Babydoll sheep in the winter vineyard to fertilise and maintain weeds.

The Wines

Our wines are made as naturally as possible with minimal intervention from the winemaker—we prefer to let the grapes tell the story.

To make great wine you must start with great fruit. Providing nature cooperates, the majority of our fruit is from our estate vines, carefully managed by Ben.  The wines are made using the traditional methods Stephanie learnt from her father alongside modern methods learnt through her studies. Stephanie pursues an uncompromising approach to quality in her wines with any batches that don’t make the cut distilled into spirit for use in her Fortified Shiraz instead of hidden or blended away into other wines. The white wines are made without exposure to oxygen and cool‑fermented in stainless steel so as to preserve delicate aromatics and fresh flavours of the fruit, without the distraction of oak or excessive skin contact.

The red wines are made in a traditional ‘Old world’ style with lots of skin contact and maturation in French oak barrels. They are fermented with a mixture of whole bunch and lightly crushed berries and matured in new and old oak casks for 12-18 months. Oak casks not only add flavours and aromas but they also allow for controlled micro-oxidation adding further character and complexity to the wine. Adjustments are made to the process according to the characteristics of each variety and each vintage, Merlot for instance sees much less oak maturation than a full-bodied cool climate Canberra Shiraz.

The Site

Aerial photo of vineyards

The vineyard is located in the Canberra Cool Climate Wine District at Murrumbateman. The vineyard was one of the earliest in the district, having been originally established in 1978 by Peter and Joan Griffiths with plantings of Traminer, Crouchen and Riesling. The vineyard achieved its first commercial release with a 1983 Riesling. Anne Hillier and Mick Withers purchased the property in 1991 and ran a winery/cellar door and café on site known as Yass Valley Wines and Crisps Lane Café respectively. They extended the vineyard plantings to 3ha in 1999 with Riesling, Shiraz, Merlot, Viognier and a number of other experimental varieties. Benjamin and Stephanie purchased the property in 2014 and have worked hard to reinvigorate the original vines and grafted some vines to Pinot Noir.

Our fruit is hand-picked and grown to maximise varietal flavour. We work with the Canberra district’s unique climate – not against it. You will find that in this region Riesling and Shiraz will taste unlike any other in Australia.

The Canberra District is fortunate in having four distinct seasons, a high number of sunlight hours, hot to warm summers and long cool autumns which perfectly favour grape ripening and intense flavours.

The vineyard is perfectly situated on a small sloping rise which allows for good cold-air drainage and helps to protect against spring frosts. It is next door to some of Murrumbateman’s most renowned wineries including Clonakilla and Eden Road. The soils are ancient volcanic soils with sandy loam over a red (iron oxide) rich clay subsoil.

Stephanie & Ben have recently planted an additional vineyard on the ridge overlooking the winery which will double their future production.

The vineyard workers

Photo of Ben holding a white Babydoll sheep

 

As well as creating beautiful wine Stephanie & Ben are working on breeding a beautiful flock of Babydoll sheep to graze through the vineyards year round. Known for their classic smiling look, Babydoll are derived from the Southdown breed with a focus on a short, well-muscled body that makes them perfect for use in vineyards.

The breed is in short supply but with two rams and a small flock of ewes sourced from all over Australia, Stephanie & Ben are looking forward to a sustainable source of vineyard workers in the future. Their sheep stud name ‘Osborne Ridge’ pays homage to Ben’s home town of Lightning Ridge. As well as lawn mowers the sheep will also assist in fertiliser supply and reduce the need for heavy machinery in the vineyard which results in soil compaction.

Photos credit: Erin Dando and GS Aerial Imagery