Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year Finalist 2021
Bellwether Wines is a small operation based in Coonawarra, run and owned by Sue Bell since 2009. The existing winery is an old sheep shearing shed that ironically came up for Auction on the same day Sue was made redundant from Hardy’s, “a wonderful twist of fate” as she puts it as it gave her the inspiration to start her own journey with Bellwether.
The winery isn’t simply a site of production. Sue has made it a ‘slice of home’ for all visitors by offering monthly “Table of 10’s”; hosting family style private dinners inside the winery for collectors, wine lovers and locals alike. Onn the property there are a beautiful collection of glamping tents for visitors to stay and experience both the Bellwether and Coonawarra way of life.
Her wines are sourced from different regions around Australia where she has longstanding relationships with growers. Her love for the Limestone Coast and Tamar Valley was born during her time working for Southcorp (Penfolds, Hardy’s, Seppeltsfield) and is now the focus of her wines. Coonawarra and Wrattonbully for its incredible Terra Rossa soils and high diurnal temperature range and the Tamar Valley for its incredible landscapes and natural cool climate.
Sue is a winemaker with a true connection to the place she calls home and a refreshing positive outlook on the world. Her great energy fills a room with a ray of sunshine and makes you feel at ease straight away. Highly involved in all aspects of production sees Sue flying over to assist with canopy management and pruning of all vineyards during the season and is in the vineyard to to help the growers and pickers when harvest arrives.
Sue’s philosophy is to create wines that speak of a sense of place as well as a true reflection of variety, where she focusses on aromatics, structure and balance. Her winemaking techniques are described by herself; “more a reflection of Victorian winemaking styles than Southern Australian winemaking; meaning picking on taste and phenolic ripeness rather than leaving the grapes on the vine longer, to increase sugar levels and fruit ripeness. In the winery she pursues elegance and lets the fruit and the vineyard speak for itself whilst oak plays a supporting role.