Mount Horrocks Wines’ Owner/Winemaker Stephanie Toole carefully crafts “essentially hand-made food wines with emphasis on structure as well as generous fruit flavours”. Only estate grown grapes are used and these are hand-picked and gently handled to ensure the varietal and site-specific flavours, as well as its organic and biodynamic status, are retained. As no finings have been found necessary the wines are all suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Only the finest French oak barriques are used for those wines spending time in barrel.
Stephanie restricts production. No more than 2,500 cases (dozen) of the highest quality single vineyard wines are produced each vintage. All three estate-owned Clare Valley vineyards, totaling ten hectares, are ‘A grade certified’ organic and biodynamic (ACO).
The seven wines produced each year are:
Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling
Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling
Mount Horrocks Watervale Semillon
Mount Horrocks Rosé
Mount Horrocks Cabernet Sauvignon
Mount Horrocks Alexander Vineyard Shiraz
Mount Horrocks Nero d’Avola
This idyllic situation of owning her own vineyards, working biodynamically, chemical-free in both vineyards and winery, did not happen by chance.
Stephanie Toole purchased Mount Horrocks Wines in 1993. In April 1998, Stephanie re-opened the Auburn Railway station following substantial renovation, as Mount Horrocks’ cellar door. In 2000 Stephanie purchased land at Watervale and commenced planting her own vineyards, carefully matching each grape variety to varying soil and rock conditions on each site.
Achieving the highest quality grapes without traditional chemical input takes time – to re-establish natural complexity and resilience of the land. Mount Horrocks Wines is one of just two local wineries to achieve both organic and biodynamic certification. Stephanie has overseen bringing the land back to life and believes that this involves more than certification – it requires a different way of thinking.
It is no surprise then, that the quality of grapes from her own vineyards is outstanding. Combining classic, no-compromise winemaking and a fully integrated organic and biodynamic approach to growing and making sets Mount Horrocks wines apart from the mainstream. The maker’s sensitive approach combined with her unwavering focus produces wines that bring varietal character and their single site origins to the fore.
Mount Horrocks Wines has been widely recognised by experts and wine lovers. James Halliday in his 2023 Australian Wine Companion reaffirmed his Five Star Red Rating (Outstanding Winery regularly producing wines of exemplary quality and typicity).
Mount Horrocks wines have received numerous Australian and International awards. Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling has been described as an ‘Australian Icon Wine’ (Wine Spectator USA) and has received trophies from both Decanter (UK) and International Wine Challenge (UK) for ‘Best Australian Dessert Wine over £10’; a rare achievement. Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling was also the only Australian wine to be served at the official Lord Mayor of London’s luncheon to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 80th birthday at Mansion House.
But these awards are not what Stephanie chases. In fact Mount Horrocks wines are rarely shown in competitions. Stephanie chooses instead to focus on perfecting her grapegrowing and winemaking – a low-key approach that has nevertheless been noticed, most recently by James Halliday in the 2023 Wine Companion:
“Stephanie Toole has never deviated from the pursuit of excellence in the vineyard and winery. … The attention to detail and refusal to cut corners is obvious in all of her wines.”