Steve Mobbs Wallington / Dreaded Friend
Steve Mobbs heads up Wallington Wines, overseeing the organic farming and making their wines, as well his experimental incursions using Wallington fruit, which appear under his Dreaded Friend label. While the biodynamic Wallington wines are classic expressions from a warm pocket of the Central Ranges, in New South Wales, Dreaded Friend takes the same fruit and spins it in a more experimental direction, with a cabernet franc and grenache currently on the roster.
Wallington was founded in 1990 when Margaret and Anthony Wallington upped stakes to escape the busy treadmill of Sydney life and moved to Canowindra, in the Central Ranges. They started planting in 1992 with cabernet sauvignon, and added chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet franc over the next six years. Grenache, petit verdot, mourvèdre, tempranillo and viognier were added in 2000. The 10-hectare vineyard is certified biodynamic, and the Wallingtons also have an olive grove and productive apiary, and they run sheep and cattle on the 400-hectare property.
Mobbs grew up on his family’s vineyard in the Hastings Valley. Their property is called Bago, which is also the home to a very impressive lilly pilly hedge maze. He went on to study winemaking at Charles Sturt University, graduating in 2008. Mobbs worked harvests at Langhorne Creek Winery in 2007 and Bay of Fires in 2008. After graduating, he worked at Houghton Wines, in Nannup, before a stint at Ravenswood Winery, in Sonoma. Vintages at Tyrrell’s, in the Hunter, Indevin, in Marlborough, Max Müller, in the Franken region of Germany, Jackson, in the Okanagan Valley, Canada, as well as Niagara, at Hidden Bench Winery, followed. In 2013, Mobbs worked at Brown Brothers, before those feet got a little less itchy, and he settled into a winemaking role at Cumulus, in Orange.
Mobbs was there until 2017, taking up his current position in his partner Nadja’s (they studied winemaking together) family business, which allowed him to both oversee the Wallington wines and launch his own Dreaded Friend label, which had been percolating for some time. “Dreaded friend has been developing in the back of my mind for quite a number of years. First started out back sometime in 2010, when I was travelling around the world jumping from winery to winery chasing harvests. It wasn’t until I was in Orange that I was able to make my first wine under the label.”
The Wallington wines are made up of a chardonnay, a dry and textural grenache rosé, a GSM blend and a cabernet sauvignon/franc blend, which are made in a low-intervention way with a focus on fruit purity. Dreaded Friend gives Mobbs the chance to experiment and push boundaries, utilising the same biodynamic fruit. “Dreaded friend is about creating authentic wines that are fun. I want to make wines that express the vineyard and I don’t want to overcomplicate the process, making wines that are thought provoking and fun to drink. Expressing varietal definition is key. Using different techniques and trialling experiments all the time. I am really only just starting to find my path with this brand, and every year I get a new idea. New wines are on their way.”