Taking an interest in winemaking at an early age, Robert's hobby began while he was still in school in 1976 with his first fortified style dessert wine being crafted from ruby blood plums he obtained from a school mate. That was a good start and the wine was enjoyed by many friends and folk who dropped by the family farm, which they owned in Sunraysia at that time.
Since then Robert has studied winemaking in great depth. In 1982 he had the opportunity to attend a short course for winemakers at Roseworthy Ag College which was convened by Dr Bryce Rankine. At the farewell BBQ there was an opportunity to share some of his wines which received favourable comment from Dr Rankine... Dr Rankine also said that while the wine industry was experiencing a down turn at that time, these wines could be commercially viable and were in fact better than some other commercial fruit wines being sampled that evening...
For several years Robert worked as a lab technician and supervisor at a major distillery in southern Sunraysia. The family farm also turned out some great wines from the fruits that were not of sufficient quality to send to market (marks and blemishes). The farm's main revenue at that time was derived from organic fresh fruit sales to Melbourne and Sydney markets, and even some direct sales to Melbourne's China town.
2015, now based in South Australia's Riverland at Kingston On Murray. After ten years of teaching karate in a semi-professional capacity and working with wines in his spare time, and due in no small part to the encouraging comments received from many of his friends upon tasting his wines, Robert decided to ramp up his efforts and make his wines available online for all to enjoy...
About our wines
Awarded "MOST SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL"; also awarded "BEST POME FRUIT WINE" and "BEST FORTIFIED WINE" at the Australian Fruit Wine Show 2017 (Hobart April 2017).
While fruit wines have been around for many years, they were not always available to the general public. The extra work required when making such wines has always limited the size of production and made them a higher value product. Making wine from grapes is relatively easy and high volume production is the norm but flavours are limited to that which can be had from grapes. Fruits too are a natural thing to be made into wine. If left for a day or two, any freshly squeezed fruit juice will naturally start fermenting...
At Matthews Fruit Wines we handcraft small batches of uniquely distinctive, exciting and beautiful wines. Unlike the so called 'fruit wines' produced by commercial grape wineries, little more than fruit concentrate added to grape wine base, ours are actually made from 100% fresh fruits grown here in Australia and the Riverland.
We have a good range of very hard to come by aged fortified-style fruit wines (likely impossible to come by - we haven't been able to find any elsewhere). These have all been produced from organic certified fruit by the long fermentation method and range between 10 and 15% residual sugar making them fermented liqueur wines. The more aged of these in our range were actually crafted back in the early 1990s, then aged in a similar way to vintage port, spending over twelve of their years at rest in a quiet valley in NW Tasmania on the banks of a cool and quiet brook (near the head of the Calder river in fact). These have recently been blended to some extent in a similar way to tawny port, prior to bottling for your enjoyment now. No need for further ageing with these beauties, they are simply wonderful and have now waited over twenty seven years to be experienced by you.
When crafting our wines, we aim to avoid mixing up different types of fruits. Pome fruits such as apples and quinces are generally kept as apple wines and quince wines, although we do have a pome blend which includes apple, quince and pear varieties - still these are all pome fruits and complement each other very well. Similarly our blood plum wines can contain up to three varieties of blood plums, like wines of Portugal which usually contain up to six different varieties of red grapes.
At Matthews Fruit Wines we have never been fans of "watery wines" so water is something we avoid adding. If there is anything to the urban myth: "fruit wines need to be consumed while young as they can't be aged" then it is likely that the addition of water is mostly responsible for this, added to the fact that most fruit wine in Australia is made at home by folks with limited experience/ means.
Taking it's name from the old stone house built in 1912, at 454 Holmes Rd, the HOLMWOOD series is a growing line of fortified fruit wines of intense flavour. These are wines that have no added water and in some cases actually have a reduction, in a similar way to that of aged solera fortifieds after the angels share has been taken. As with fortified grape wines, ageing plays an important role in many of our wines. Like old Tawnies and Muscats which have darkened over time due to micro oxidation, taking on those rich rancio and madeira characteristics, so too have many of our wines. Having said that, for those who prefer fruitier wines and aren't so much into rancio, ruby rather than tawny, we have wines for you too.
We are now making a range of dry red grape wines and ports too, all from grapes we have hand picked from the vineyards of our friends here in the Riverland. All our grape wines are aged on oak and settled for at least two years, prior to bottling unfiltered. We use a hydro-press (operating at low pressure) when pressing all our wines for virtually all free-run wine; natural settling without animal-based fining agents, so yes our wines are vegan friendly; no additives (tannins or concentrates such as mega purple) are used in any of our wines. Our wines are all natural the way wines should be.
Although only a small winery, quality control is nonetheless a very important part of our winemaking operations, guess work with high sulphur dioxide levels is simply out of the question for us. Alcoholic strength, titratable acidity, volatile acidity, free and total sulphur dioxide are just some of the tests performed by us on a regular basis. With maximun permitted Hydrocyanic acid levels in alcoholic beverages specified at 1mg/kg for each 1% of alcohol content, set by the Australian & New Zealand Food Standards Code, and by UK too, any products where this could possibly be an issue such as umeshu style liquors using all natural raw ingredients, testing of each batch is out sourced to the Australian Government 'National Measurement Institute' for verification prior to bottling. Safety of the public is our prime concern and should never be overlooked.