After sixteen vintages, Darren and Lucy Golding have fifteen wines, three kids and a border collie. But how did they start?
Their story goes back to 1995. Darren’s parents, Greg and Connie, had bought a bare patch of land in a secluded valley just outside the township of Lobethal. They owned and operated an apple and pear merchant stall in the Adelaide wholesale produce markets, and were approached one day by a fellow market stallholder who’d just bought a winery and needed Adelaide Hills fruit. Greg and Connie started to plant the Western Branch Vineyard in response to the stallholder’s request at around the same time Darren returned home from a few years overseas. Darren saw an opportunity and wanted to be involved.
Darren’s first contribution was to design and build the sandstone barn that would become the farm shed and temporary living quarters for his parents while they built a permanent dwelling further up the hill. Lucy entered the scene part way through the two-year project, and one rainy Sunday, Darren took her up to the property to have a look. She was, in her own words, “impressed beyond belief,” and what they’ve gone on to build together now has foundations in this moment.
By 2002, 80 acres of vines had been planted at the Western Branch Vineyard. Darren had studied winemaking, and Lucy had finished her Interior Architecture degree, and was working for a local architecture firm. Together, they decided that 2002 was going to be “a year of action,” so they got married and launched the Golding Wines label with a Pinot Noir and a Sauvignon Blanc in their first vintage.
Eventually, Darren and Lucy bought the Western Branch Road from Darren’s parents, added a neighbouring vineyard to the mix, established a commercial vine nursery, opened a cellar door in the barn, planted a garden, built up a thriving wedding and function business and, more recently, added a restaurant to their weekend offering.
Their cellar door is open daily for wine tastings and structured flights, and lunch is available Friday to Sunday.
52 Western Branch Road, Lobethal
Tell us about the winery today?
Darren and I are the hands on owner/operators of Golding Wines. Darren manages all things viticultural and oversees the winemaking program; I am all about the visual aspects of our brand and focus on brand development, marketing and communications (I also put my two cents in when it comes to the wines we produce). On top of that, we both share the load of running a small business. We employ five full-time staff and a swag of casuals. Our three daughters are now 10, 12 and 15 and will no doubt be making their first foray into the family business in the not-too-distant future as part of our weekend team. Well that’s what our 15 year old has in mind anyway! Darren’s parents, Connie and Greg still live on the property and are often found down at the cellar door having a chat to our customers.
Tell us about your wines?
Our focus has always been on creating cool climate, elegant and approachable wines. Wines that we like to drink, that ultimately speak of our place here in the Hills. I think that this is particularly so when it comes to our Francis John Pinot. Every vintage from 2002 has some characters that I can relate back to; a distinct earthiness, with savoury beetroot characters layered over the classic Pinot fruit spectrum. To me that speaks of our place and I like that. It has always been a favourite of mine, but hey, I could drink Pinot every night of the week!
The varieties we grow on our Western Branch vineyard are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Savagnin, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Our highest blocks of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sit at an altitude of roughly 460m. Killer views and delicious fruit!
If your Pinot was a music artist, who would it be?
Our Francis John Pinot would be The Lumineers.
What do you listen to during vintage?
It’s hard to narrow down! We love a bit of the Boss around here. He has something to match any vintage vibe. From hectic beats to mellow tunes, he will always be on the playlist.
Where do you Pinot?
Our favourite place to Pinot is definitely at home, with friends, on our verandah, by the brazier looking out over our vineyard and to the Hills beyond. We are so spoilt, the Adelaide Hills are drop-dead gorgeous in every season and we get to live and breathe that everyday!
Where can we buy your wine?
Specifically, our Purveyor Pinot is available at the following Adelaide retailers: Belair Fine Wines, Entwine the Wine Business, Highway Inn, Tower Hotel, Watermark Hotel and West Beach Cellars. We’re in the process of building our new wine club, the Western Branch Collective, which will launch soon. Otherwise, you can buy our wine online, in person from our cellar door, in restaurants and from wine retailers.