In 2013, Ben Ranken and his wife, Sally Richardson, purchased the old Portree Vineyard near Lancefield in the Macedon Ranges. Sitting at 600 m above sea level and with most vines over 30 years old, this was no small thing. It’s no secret that chardonnay and pinot noir love cool territory, with enough sunshine but…
Shaun Crinion Dappled
Shaun Crinion didn’t exactly grow up surrounded by a strong wine culture. Although today the Sunshine Coast does have an expanding wine-growing industry, that wasn’t exactly the case when Crinion was growing up in the ’80s. Sand, sunshine and the like were the order of the day, with the only vinous connection being his uncle, who was making wine around the world. It seems Crinion did have wine in his blood, though, with the beach culture of the Sunshine Coast leading him to a winemaking career via a surfing trip to California and Mexico when he was 18.
Crinion’s uncle was working at Laetitia Winery & Vineyards, in San Luis Obispo, which gave him some gainful employment over vintage to support his wave habit. It also gave him a taste for both wine and winemaking. As Crinion says, “I was hooked.” What followed was a classically peripatetic journey for a young winemaker, with a decade spent work extensively across three continents, including at Williams Selyem in the Russian River Valley, and Domaine de Montille in Burgundy, as well as back home at Domaine Chandon, Houghtons, Bay of Fires, Devil’s Lair and De Bortoli, amongst others. During all of this, somehow he also managed to complete his Wine Science degree at Charles Sturt University, graduating in 2005.
That constant wandering eventually led to Crinion settling on the Yarra Valley as his base, with forays into both the Mornington Peninsula and Macedon filling out his cool-climate roster of wines. When he first launched his own label, he started with a very simple notion: “Dappled was started in 2009 with the view to make high quality unadulterated wines from special patches of dirt at realistic prices.”
At present he sources his fruit from strong relationships with small growers, but the future is pitched towards a home vineyard, with organic and biodynamic principles at its heart. Crinion focuses firmly on pinot noir and chardonnay, though with meaningful forays into syrah and gewürztraminer. Winemaking is simple and traditional, and never prescriptive, with no adds bar sulphur, and no fining or filtration for both reds and whites.