Situated in an area of the Adelaide Hills that was littered with goldmines in the 1800s, the Bird in Hand winery was purchased and planted in 1997 by Andrew Nugent, current Executive Director. Andrew has kept the close historical links alive both in the naming of the winery and their wine ranges; Two in the Bush and Nest Egg were the names of mineshafts in the Bird in Hand goldmine. Bird in Hand have 23 hectares under vine in Woodside and 5 ha in Clare, from which they produce classic examples of cool climate Chardonnay and Shiraz that have won world acclaim. Chief Winemaker, Kym Milne MW, joined Bird in Hand in 2003 after many years’ spent gaining international experience. In 2014 he was named Australian Winemaker of the Year by Winestate Magazine.
The site was once a dairy farm, many of the original structures remain and have been transformed to house different areas of the winery. The old cheese and yoghurt factory now houses the offices and the two big silos which were once used as grain storage for the cattle are now a feature for the 5* Halliday award-winning winery.
Kym Milne MW, chief winemaker at Bird in Hand since 2003, has shared with us a small insight into his passion for wine in our Winemaker Q&A feature:
Who, within the trade, has been your biggest influence and why?
A lot of positive influencers over the years. My first winemaking boss Ian McKenzie at Berri winery was a big influence – exceptional palate and taught me a lot on the tasting bench.
I think the biggest influence on my career though was George Fistonich, owner of Villa Maria when I worked for him for 10 years as his winemaker and then consulted to the company for a further 15 years as a winemaking consultant. George was always incredibly supportive and encouraging of what I wanted to do and to a large extent gave me a free hand in the winery and defining the wine styles at a very early stage in my career. George has an amazing ability to look at the big picture of things, a natural understanding of wine styles and what works commercially, and a real passion for his company. He also has a great understanding and interest in people and places great importance in his people. His encouragement, support and personal challenges he set me have had a large and positive influence on me.
What will be new/different in 2018/19?
Every vintage is new and different – that is the great joy and interest of winemaking.
What is your favourite variety, why?
To make – Chardonnay. It is also one of my favourite wines to drink. I enjoy making Chardonnay as it is a variety that not only reflects the vineyard it comes, but also is a palette that allows you to paint a range of styles on with different winemaking techniques. The Adelaide Hills is one of the finest regions for Chardonnay in Australia in my opinion and I get a lot of pleasure from making these wines.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
Blending/tasting. I find assessing all of the wines we make, deciding which batch/barrel/tank blends well with which is not only interesting, challenging and often surprising and something I get a lot of pleasure from when it produces a fine result.
And the least?
In difficult wet vintages (which thankfully we have not had many of in the last few years) – the weather forecast!