The story of Sanguine Estate wines

The development of the Progeny Shiraz and the discovery of winemaking in its heritage is essential chapters in the story of Sanguine Estate Wines, Heathcote. Join us as we uncover more about this award-winning boutique family-run vineyard and winery.

Sanguine Estate Wines’ first wine was already bottled before Founder Tony and Linda Hunter discovered their ancestry had planted vines nearby in the late 1800s. You might say that vines and wine run in the family.

In the nineties, Tony and Linda committed to Heathcote for retirement the moment they laid eyes on the land. There was something special about the rolling fields in the shadows of Mt Ida, Heathcote, Central Victoria, plus Tony was super keen on Heathcote shiraz.

Tony’s entrepreneurial spirit meant that what started off as a hobby farm intended for retirement soon became a business. With no experience in horticulture or viticulture but spurred on by their love of Heathcote Shiraz and their desire to create a family business, Tony and Lyn enlisted help from their children Mark and Jodi to plant their first 20 acres in 1997.

“When we started, we gave Mark and Jodi a hill to plant their own vineyard. They called it the Progeny Block,” says Tony.

“Mark and I were well established in our off-site careers at that stage,” says Jodi, “but our own investment in the Progeny vineyard was enough to instil the passion needed to thrive in the wine industry. It was a clever way to get us involved and we really wanted to succeed.”

And succeed they did. Very quickly Mark became the winemaker of Sanguine Estate and a little later Jodi the CEO of the family’s wine business. Their first vintage, Progeny Shiraz, was produced in 2002 and became one of the Sanguine Estate wine labels, but with its own personality. “It’s typically co-fermented with a small percentage of viognier,” says Jodi.

Every year, winemaker Mark stayed true to style and in 2018 his talent was recognised as Progeny was awarded the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards - Red Wines of Provenance Trophy with its 2017, 2012 and 2008 vintages.

Many of the Sanguine range have medals and awards attached to their wines.

“We enter awards in the hope that we’ll win gold medals and trophies. Third-party endorsements are so important for consumer confidence particularly if the consumer is unable to sample the wine before they buy,” says Jodie.

The Sanguine Estate also has ties to winemaking from the late 1800s, which Tony discovered by chance after reading up on the history of the Victorian Wine industry. It turns out that Tony’s Great Great Grandfather Pietro D’Orsa was a vigneron in the town of Maldon - 100 km west of the site of Sanguine’s vineyard and winery in Heathcote.

Pietro D’Orsa was born in the Swiss Italian village of Poschavio and like so many Swiss Italians, he played a key role in developing the wine industry in Victoria in the mid-1880s.

“We don’t know for sure whether it was the prospect of employment or the allure of gold that took him to Maldon near Castlemaine in Victoria’s Golden Triangle back in 1868,” says Tony, “But we do know he left Italy with vines in arm in 1868 to make a new life in Australia. He planted his vineyard, made his wine and raised a family in the small Central Victorian town of Maldon.”

Sanguine Estate Wines has dedicated its "D'Orsa" shiraz to Pietro.

Protecting the family’s livelihood will always be a focus for Sanguine Wines Estate, which is today more than a wine business – from its chamber music festival to Sanguine Annual Family Dinners, customers from all over the world are invited to experience and share the Sanguine Wines lifestyle through regular events.

The full Sanguine Estate range is available online, at the cellar door and the Progeny Shiraz is also available through small independent retailers.