Simão & Co. Wines
With a range that covers significant territory, from the Alpine and King Valleys to Beechworth, Glenrowan and Rutherglen, Simon makes wine from all five of the North-East’s regions.
Black and Naunton met at high school in 2002, and though their paths have been very different, they have long shared a love of the outdoors, and of wine. While Naunton worked in technology and finance in Melbourne, Black was working in vineyards across Victoria. However, the pair always made time for 4WDriving and camping trips, and on one of these, a beer or wine too many around the campfire led to the genesis of Black & Ginger.
Starting his academic career with a Bachelor of Engineering in Metallurgy at Curtin University, in Perth, Black later studied a Bachelor of Winemaking and Viticulture at NMIT, in Melbourne. He’s still working on finishing them, well the latter one at least.
Black has worked with some of Victoria’s most highly regarded winemakers, starting with Steve Flamsteed at Giant Steps in 2010, then for two years alongside Ben Ranken at Galli Estate (Wilimee and Mount Monument), before he took a cellar hand gig at Best’s for the 2013 vintage, working with Justin Purser. Black managed to also complete the 2012 and 2013 vintages at Rombauer Vineyards, in the Napa Valley.
That temporary job at Best’s evolved into something more lasting. Black has been making wine under the Black & Ginger label since 2015, and bought a small vineyard, Hounds Run, with his fiancé in 2016. With both ventures needing his full attention, he left Best’s in 2018. That home vineyard is slowly being converted to cane pruning, while the focus has switched to organic farming, with certification the end goal.
With a philosophy of keeping things simple, Black uses traditional winemaking techniques and not letting heavy hands or oak get in the way. “I’m not going to change the winemaking world. As every winemaker will say, great wines are made in the vineyard. I want to make interesting wines from interesting varieties. We started with shiraz …but every winery in the country sells shiraz so now we’ll concentrate on some different things. The nouveau style grenache has been a massive hit and the orange muscat is something interesting… The grower we source these grapes from has some Portuguese varieties too, so we’ll be having a crack at those as well,” he says.
The first of those experiments with Iberian varieties saw a hatful of graciano bottled in 2019, which was made to the same philosophy for all of the Black & Ginger wines. “My wines are made in a style that is easy to drink without being boring,” says Black. “Not too heavy, not too light. I feel they can work both ways; you can match them at a flash dinner party or restaurant, or just drink a bottle with your mates on a Sunday arvo. My only rule is not to stuff around with additions and winemakers’ tricks. I’m is not exactly minimal intervention or natural, but I keep it simple.”