A few years and a few detours later, he was studying Wine Science and working as an assistant to the esteemed Italian wine maker Carlo Corino, considered one of the best in the game.
A move to Coonawarra followed where John worked as a winemaker for 20 vintages, and then as a winemaking consultant.
He knows the Limestone Coast well, its wine growing regions of Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Mount Benson and Mount Gambier, their different soils, their climates. That’s the background, the knowledge and the enthusiasm John brings to Ottelia.
Ottelia Ovalifolia is the horticultural name for the waterlily that blooms with white and purple flowers on John and Melissa’s property, it hosts a chorus of native frogs at night and provides the namesake for John’s fascination, his wine label Ottelia.
Historically the hardy native grew abundantly across the region; borrowing the name for the wine seemed fitting given the years invested in working in the area’s vineyards.
The 2017 growing season saw a mild summer with cool ripening conditions, similar to the 2016 growing season and proved close to ideal for Pinot Gris. The fruit from Robe was harvested first, followed by the Mount Gambier fruit over the following weeks.