Curlewis would not be what it is today without the creativity of Rainer. A businessman, engineer, artist and winemaker, he has a unique art and science sensibility.
Rainer worked briefly as a Civil Engineer before moving into management and then running businesses including a chocolate factory, fish farm and garbage truck manufacturing business.
Rainer and his wife Wendy had always been passionate about wine (they first met at a wine show) and completed a winemaking course together. On a visit to a friend’s vineyard, they heard about Curlewis being for sale, and bought it a fortnight later.
Pinot Noir in Australia wasn’t of the quality it is today back in the 90’s, and Rainer and Wendy set out to make a wine that would be comfortable alongside a Burgundian Grand Cru. Having studied winemaking in Australia and researched winemaking approaches in California and France, Rainer decided on his own approach taking bits and pieces from each approach that would be appropriate for Pinot Noir grown at Curlewis.
Rainer’s first approach was, by his own admission, a little overzealous. Having overdone some of the techniques (letting too much oxygen in), the first vintage (1998) was undrinkable. As luck would have it, the 1999 vintage was highly concentrated, and a perfect balance for the 1998 vintage. When the balanced Pinot Noir it was released it was a Burgundian style Pinot Noir not seen before from Australian winemakers, and it was affordable. It was quickly picked up by restaurants including Jacques Reymond, Jimmy Watsons and Walters Wine Bar.
Since the first release of Curlewis Pinot Noir the wines have consistently been rated highly. The wines are still blended by taste. Rainer, Wendy, Stefano and Leesa sit around the dining table and taste samples from up to 40 plus barrels of wine. Rainer’s palate memory is outstanding – he can remember the profiles of wines he tasted decades ago, and has always blended Curlewis wines by taste, understanding the strengths and flaws of each barrel and how to combine them to create a balanced wine.
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