Successful Sydney restaurateur John Gebran was looking for his “next best thing” when he came across Goulburn’s boutique Kingsdale Wines.
He had been looking at properties in wine country to the country’s north and south, but hadn’t found what he was after.
“I had sold a few things and was looking for something new – and I work on the theory that when you go after something, you get it.”
He’d been down to wine country in Tasmania and across to the Hunter Valley before he came across Kingsdale, on the Crookwell Road, just outside Goulburn which he bought for $2.3 million.
“It looked right,” he said. “I’m in the creating business and I love learning new things – so this was perfect. I like a challenge.”
Although a dedicated foodie, “no-one has to cook when I’m around”, John said he was looking forward to learning how to make wine.
He will have a winemaker on staff, but said he was keen to roll up his sleeves and learn the ancient craft himself.
“I’m a hands-on sort of person, not one to sit behind a computer all day. I’ll have teachers to show me how the winemaking process is done and I’m going to do a lot of courses.
“I’m not the sort of investor who wants other people to do the work for him. I want to be able to say, when all the work is done, ‘I made this’.”
Once the COVID-19 lockdown ends, John said he was keen to welcome visitors back to Kingsdale and share his grand plans for the winery, which sits on nearly 40 hectares in what has become award-winning cool climate wine country.
His dream is to create a restaurant and function centre on-site, and maybe some cabins later where people can stay.
“But I want to take my time doing this,” he said. “And I am looking forward to when we can have people come out here to try the wine and enjoy a cheese platter under the trees.”
John said if his plans were approved, he would look to hire 20 to 30 locals to work on the project. He already has a number of sub-contractors on staff, working on building and outside maintenance.
According to recent wine show results, John is already on to a winner with Kingsdale. This month, just a matter of weeks after John bought the property, one of its premium drops, Autumn Harvest, took out a coveted award in the Australian Single Vineyard Wine Show.
It nailed the bronze medal in the competitive class of White, Sweet, Table Wine (Non-Botryised) any vintage – competing against wines from across the country. The wine has been described as a slightly sweeter, fruity blend with a fresh finish, a blend of Kingsdale’s semillon, chardonnay and viognier grapes.
Located a five-minute drive from the heart of Goulburn and about 30km from Crookwell, baby vines were first planted at Kingsdale by former owners Howard and Elly Spark in 2001. It was designed from the start as a vineyard-to-bottle operation on the one site.
Although Goulburn is not generally considered an established wine-growing region, it does share the cool climate that has made Canberra and Murrumbateman such successful wine stories.
“That’s why I wanted to set up something here,” John said. “I already know how good the wines are,” adding that shiraz was his favourite.
Kingsdale produces a range of wines including merlot, shiraz, rose, sauvignon blanc, semillon, chardonnay, fume blanc, and fortified wines including orange liqueur wine and a tawny port-style vintage shiraz.