Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia

Meet the Characters: Hayley Purbrick, Tahbilk

“We are really very aware that our story starts with the land and the river… it doesn't start with the winery being built,” says Hayley Purbrick, the fifth generation of her family to helm Tahbilk. This sustainable ethos underpins the historic winery in Victoria’s Nagambie Lakes, which has achieved carbon neutrality and is transitioning to organic management under Hayley’s tenure as Environmental Manager.

Hayley spent her formative years playing in the heritage cellars and helping out across the business. Even after a career in finance took her away, the land continued to exert a pull. “I was always a country kid… I have a really deep connection with the earth,” she says. One day, Hayley made a decision; if she had to work past 6pm once more, it was time to go home. “I worked until 11pm that night and I handed in my resignation the next day.”

Tahbilk can trace its origins to the 1860s (it boasts some of the world’s oldest Marsanne and Shiraz plantings). To visit is “like walking back in time”, Hayley says, but the business is very future-looking. “Our environmental journey has really been born out of being able to continue to grow high-quality produce to use in all our products long into the future.”

As well as the nurturing the Rhone varietals Tahbilk is famous for, the entire ecosystem has been considered. Guests are encouraged to explore the property’s regenerated wetlands ­– home to everything from platypus to pelicans. It encapsulates the holistic vision Hayley is helping realise. “I would love [visitors] to walk away feeling a sense of calm, a sense of warmth and a really deep connection to the place that they've just walked within,” she says.