Heggies is owned by Aussie giants Yalumba, the oldest family-owned winery in the country, spanning seven generations of the Smith family. Grazer and bushman Colin Heggie sold his family’s land to Yalumba's fifth-generation Wyndham Hill Smith – his friend since their school days together – back in the early seventies. Wyndham produced Heggies' first wine in 1979.
The label illustration of Colin Heggie gazing out at the vineyard astride his trusty chestnut Jack has gone on to become an iconic image, and is still used on Heggies’ labels today. Of course, the winemaking has evolved far more than the packaging!
These days Heggies has its own independence from other Yalumba productions, meaning it can operate as a small-scale winery but still benefits from the vast technology, resources and guidance Yalumba has to offer. Its present-day winemaker, Peter Gambetta, has combined his passion for wine with his love of science to introduce several innovative technologies to the winemaking process, including wild-yeast ferments and strictly controlled oak influence.
Unlike many similar wineries in Australia, oak here is used reductively to encourage savoury, burn-match character that makes their flagship wine – the Heggies Chardonnay – so distinctive. In the vineyards, however, it’s all about minimum intervention and working with rather than against the difficult natural surroundings. Heggies may be one of the most prestigious single vineyards in Eden Valley, but it’s a challenging and unpredictable site to manage: grapes are grown in semi-drought conditions. Rather than intervene, Heggies let the vines dig deep through the sandy loam and clay soils in order to find moisture – this produces fruit of exceptional quality, balance and flavour. At 550m above sea level, it’s also one of the highest – and therefore one of the coolest – vineyards in Australia.
Typically, Australian chardonnay is known for being a big, opulent, ‘sunshine in a glass’ wine, but Heggies’ cool vineyards impart a more refined minerality. This, combined with the more subtle use of oak, is why we continue to list this richly structured, complex wine year after year.