After a 10-year search, winemaker Adam Richardson selected the very special terroir of his Hard Hill Road Vineyard site for the production of his Chockstone and Hard Hill Road labels. With its own special microclimate, the Hard Hill Road Vineyard’s cool ripening conditions and naturally low-yielding vines produce wines with layers of intense flavours and a velvety structure. Like many of the best wines in this historic region, A.T. Richardson wines are approachable in their youth and possess the potential to age gracefully.
In A.T. Richardson Wines, you will taste the rich and enticing flavours of the Grampians and get caught up in the excitement of wine, adventure, and life.
A native of Western Australia, Adam Richardson has been making wine professionally since 1995. In addition to crafting wines for his A.T. Richardson brand, Adam has held various senior international winemaking and management roles including chief winemaker for Treasury Wine Estates Americas and vice president of international winemaking for a major California-based wine company. In these roles, Adam visited and produced wines from almost every major wine appellation around the world, yet he most highly regards the wines from the Grampians region of his native Australia.
Prior to winemaking, Adam was an aviator in the Royal Australian Navy. But 10 years and many glasses of wine later, he jumped ship to begin his second career as a winemaker. When he’s not making wine, he is in the mountains with his wife, Eva, their twins, Madeleine and Jackson, and Daisy the dog, skiing, climbing, or barrelling down “single tracks” on mountain bikes.
The close-planted vines at the Hard Hill Road Vineyard are nestled along a ridgeline and surrounded by a eucalypt forest. In the morning, mobs of kangaroos can be seen bounding along the rows, and in the evening, flocks of sulphur-crested cockatoos settle in the redgum trees for the night.
An adjacent knoll, named “Hard Hill” by the 1850s gold miners for the inhospitable nature of its slopes, epitomizes the vineyard. The unyielding soil, characterized by ironstone and quartz outcrops, is ideal for growing the richly flavoured grapes so important to A.T. Richardson Wines.
The vineyard’s northeast-facing slope not only captures the earliest morning sun (essential in the rapidly cooling ripening month of April), it also shelters the vines. These challenging growing conditions, along with the low annual rainfall and carefully situated vineyard blocks, conspire to produce fruit of wonderful intensity and balance.
The Hard Hill Road Vineyard is planted to five main grape varieties:
At 350 metres, the Riesling block is the highest and therefore coolest microclimate in the vineyard. The later ripening that comes with the cooler Grampians climate results in Riesling wines that are delicately structured, with crisp mineral and floral characters.
Four different clones of Shiraz have been planted in the ironstone soils—each carefully selected from historical regional clones with a proven track record for grapes with highly concentrated flavours. The region’s poor soil and minimal rainfall results in complex and structured Shiraz wines with wonderful layers of berry and spice flavours.
Also known as Petite Sirah, these thick-skinned black grapes produce majestic wines of depth and character. With his many years of experience making Petite Sirah, Adam is one of the few winemakers who dare to plant the variety in the cooler climate.
Nebbiolo and Tannat
In 2012, Adam planted these relatively unusual varieties. Nebbiolo, originally from Northern Italy’s Piedmont region, is one of the most noble varieties, producing wines of immense power, yet with all the elegance in the world. Tannat, hailing from southern France, produces deep, rich, and brooding wines.
Soon after the 1850s Victorian gold rush, some of Australia’s earliest wineries were established in the Grampians region. Nowadays, the Grampians is home to more than 1,000 acres of vineyards and more than 15 wineries.
Historically known for its fine sparkling wines and robust reds, the Grampians is now famous for producing richly textured Shiraz and elegantly structured Riesling wines. It is unusual to find a place where you can grow these world-class varieties side by side; the climate and soils of the Grampians are ideally suited to the production of both.
Rock Climbing + Winemaking
Crazy combination, huh? It may seem a leap to compare climbing to winemaking, but these two pursuits—both so close to winemaker, Adam’s heart—actually require a very similar approach. Chockstone wines represent the marriage of these two adventures.
The home of Chockstone wines is located just outside the 168,000-hectare Grampians National Park, which comprises four distinct ranges of tilted sandstone that rise to more than 1,000 metres, providing thousands of dramatic climbing routes on its cliffs, bluffs, and pinnacles.
Climbing is an exciting, adrenaline-charged activity that requires you to be at one with your environment and willing to take sensible risks. Likewise, in winemaking, you need to be in harmony with your vineyard but also prepared to push your boundaries to achieve that ultimate wine style.
There is almost no greater sense of achievement and exhilaration than when you scale what at first seemed to be an impossibly vertical cliff, except maybe for producing a wine that, after years of effort, displays all the characters and potential that you only dreamt of.
We measure our lives by the experiences we have—climbing a mountain with a trusted partner, or sharing a delicious bottle of wine with good friends. A great adventure with a fine wine can change your life—let it change!