Bruce and Jeanette Tomlinson established Lenton Brae in the Margaret River region in 1982 after a chance conversation with Bill Pannell, owner of the famous Moss Wood winery.
Impressed by the experienced Pannell’s assessment of a piece of Moss Wood land that was being sold, Bruce, an architect and town planner, bought it and decided to have try his hand at viticulture. In 1983 he planted 10 hectares chardonnay, semillon, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, all classic Margaret River varieties, on the slopes of a small hill at Wilyabrup. The soils are generally gravelly loam on a base of clay, restricting vigour and allowing the vines to drain easily but giving them a moisture retaining layer to encourage the roots to delve deep. Yields are kept low.
The name Lenton Brae comes in part from this higher ground, ‘brae’ being a Scottish term for a hill, and Lenton being the name of a district of Nottingham from which one of Bruce’s ancestors emigrated to Australia in 1882.
The first commercial harvest took place in 1987 and was vinified at another local winery before Bruce designed and built his own in 1988. Early wines made people sit up and take notice of the newcomer, winning awards locally, particularly at the prestigious Perth Royal Show in 1992.
Sadly, Bruce passed away in 2014 but the estate had by then forged a formidable reputation for its wines and will surely go from strength to strength with Bruce’s winemaker son Edward in charge.
Read our 15-minute interview with Edward Tomlinson >