Meet the Characters: Santiago Fernandez, Voyager Estate
There’s a poetic symmetry to Santiago (or Santi) …
Family and winemaking go hand-in-hand for Leanne De Bortoli. Having grown up on the original De Bortoli Wines estate in country New South Wales, established in 1928 by her grandfather Vittorio De Bortoli, Leanne is a third-generation De Bortoli family member and is responsible for bringing to life some of Australia’s most beloved wines. Today, she manages the family’s Yarra Valley winery, 60 kilometres (37 miles) north-east of Melbourne.
As one of three De Bortoli wineries now dotted across New South Wales and Victoria, it’s the Yarra Valley estate that has been dedicated since 1987
to producing the De Bortoli premium range, overseen by Leanne’s husband, winemaker Steve Webber.
“The Yarra Valley has proved the perfect place to grow grapes for our premium range because the cooler climate makes for wines that are both fine and food-friendly,” explains Leanne.
De Bortoli is renowned for its award-winning Chardonnay but also embraces newer styles like Nebbiolo Rosé. Leanne shares the lessons instilled by her grandfather: “He had immigrated from Northern Italy to Australia before establishing the first vineyard. But that was his great skill: he took opportunities where he saw them, he wasn’t afraid to experiment, and he found a way to give people the wine they really wanted.”
It’s not just De Bortoli’s wine that has evolved in the Yarra: its menu of experiences has, too. At Locale Restaurant, you can indulge in shared plates of authentic Italian dishes made with fresh local produce, alongside your favourite De Bortoli drop. Further wine tastings are offered at the cellar door, as are winery tours, barrel tastings, even blending your own wine. But the signature experience is the Wine and Wildlife package, beginning at the nearby Healesville Sanctuary where you can get up close to some of Australia’s unique wildlife, including koalas, wallabies, Tasmanian devils and emus, followed by a leisurely winery tour and long lunch, finishing at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery.