With so many new brands entering the Australian wine scene, the stories of the classics could well be left on a dusty bottleshop shelf. However, as the Redman family celebrate 50 years of Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon and enjoy their time in the spotlight, it’s a reminder that everything old can be new again.
Over the decades, the Redman name has become synonymous with medium-bodied, intensely flavoured Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon. While the Redman story dates to 1908, it was only in the late 1960s that Owen Redman realised the potential for Cabernet Sauvignon – before this, Shiraz was the focus of their winemaking. 1970 saw the first release of Redman Cabernet Sauvignon, with 550 magnums produced. It was only a small harvest the first year, but as more fruit became available, demand grew. Now, over 50 years later, the Redman wines are as popular as ever, with a new generation discovering the approachable, medium-bodied style.
Bruce Redman, third generation winemaker and co-owner remarks, “This 50-year milestone is a great opportunity to look back and see how the industry and region have changed. We’ve evolved and continued to embrace new techniques and technology, but we are still very much hands on and believe in the philosophy of non-intervention.”
For example, grapes are de-stemmed and crushed in the field at the time of picking. The focus on red wine means a consistency of style that maintains the integrity of the wine. Bruce adds, “Every vintage is different, but there’s a common thread running through the wines we’re trying to capture.”
Four generations putting Coonawarra on the map
The family has red wine running through their veins. Owen Redman took over from his father, Bill Redman, when he retired in 1965, and he and his wife Edna immediately set out to put their Coonawarra red wines on the map. In 1982 their sons Bruce and Mal Redman took over. They are a tight-knit family who are purposefully involved in every facet of the business – from growing the grapes to making the wines and getting the bottle into a customer’s hand. Venture into the Coonawarra cellar door, and it will likely be one of the Redman family pouring your glass of wine and
sharing their stories with you.
Recently celebrating their 42nd vintage working alongside each other, Bruce and Mal Redman continue to focus on their house style rather than chasing fads. Much of the work is now done via intuition, each wine elegant and subtle, but with deceptively powerful flavours and length. Dan and Mike Redman, the fourth generation, now add their touch, but the vision still reflects that of their father Bruce and grandfather Owen.
With only three winemakers at the helm across five decades of Cabernet Sauvignon production and just three viticulturists tending to the vines, the Redman family’s intimate knowledge of the vineyards and Coonawarra’s terroir is impressive.
Dan and Mike love hearing stories of Redman wines being passed down from one generation of drinkers to the next: “Our distinctive yellow label evokes memories and it’s great to see parents sharing their Redman wines from the cellar with the next generation.” Other regions may steal the limelight, but the medium-bodied approachable style of Coonawarra Cabernet is still very much in vogue.
Five Redman vineyards are nestled in the iconic Coonawarra ‘cigar strip,’ alongside many other wineries’ vineyards. The distinctive cigar-shaped strip of red-brown terra rossa soil over a limestone base defines the region. Spanning 27 kilometres in length and 3 kilometres in width, this narrow stretch of vineyards has a stunning density of vines, renowned for yielding remarkable Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
Visit Coonawarra and explore this beautiful region of South Australia. The Coonawarra Wineries Walking Trail takes in a handful of first-class cellar doors including Redman’s. Open seven days a week (every day except Christmas Day), the welcoming cellar door is the perfect place to learn more about the winemaking process and taste the family’s distinctive range of Coonawarra wines.
Visit redman.com.au for more.
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