Wandering winemakers are nothing new and Aussies have historically been in the vanguard of those nomads who make wine wherever they lay their hat. Route du Van is a collective of people with a variety of skills who travel around the Australian state of Victoria seeking out promising parcels of vines to make wine from.
The winemaker is Tod Dexter, who learned much of his craft during half a dozen years at Cakebread Cellars in California's Napa Valley, a place he ended up to after developing an interest in wine and heading west in a battered Kombivan following a US skiing trip.
Working with Tod to develop the brand are Ian and David Bird who bring marketing nous to the operation. Ian's inspiration came during five months spent roaming around Italy, eating the local food and drinking the local wines. When he teamed up with Tod it was because they both wanted to make, and just as importantly drink, wines that would pair with food and speak of their region. A joint trip to France to follow the Tour du France cemented their intent and so far they have made wines from King Valley, Alpine Valley, Geelong, Yarra Valley and Heathcote, each of them with their regional character to the fore which satisfies their stated aim.
They have one eye on doing the same thing in France and if they do it will be one Route du Van worth following.