For as long as he can remember, Paul Dahlenburg has nurtured an insatiable passion for winemaking. As a young university student studying an undergraduate science degree, he worked alongside Mick Morris at the Morris of Rutherglen winery. Inspired by his mentors’ winemaking wisdom and eager to continue mastering his own skills, Paul then decided to complete his post-graduate diploma in wine at the University of Melbourne.
In 1988, finding himself once more in the midst of the famed, gnarled grapevines of Rutherglen, Paul’s esteemed wine career began. Here, his well-honed skills in fortified winemaking became the perfect catalyst to produce Morris’s world renowned Topaque and Muscat.
Along the journey, he also expanded his winemaking acumen in the Yarra and Hunter Valleys. But he just couldn’t get the mountains out of his blood. In 1996 he joined Baileys of Glenrowan, located a mere hour south of where he grew up in Yackandandah, nestled against the ancient Warby Ranges. Idyllic as his new home might be, the Ranges’ granite peaks with their hidden waterfalls and river red gums are yet to steal his drive and passion for wine. After working tirelessly for nearly ten years, he became Bailey’s Chief Winemaker in 2004.
Paul’s winemaking passion and commitment to quality is firmly embedded in his creation of fine concentrated reds that whisper the stories of their roots. Bailey’s world class fortified wines age just as well as the backdrop of weathered crags that shape the venerable soil from which each Glenrowan vintage is born. With bright fruit and lifted aromatics, Bailey’s of Glenrowan’s luscious range epitomises Paul’s artistry and devotion, cultivated over his 15+ year tenure.
Tradition is the time-tested secret to Bailey’s success. Paul and the viticulture team are committed to organic winemaking and continue to use restored, 100 year-old basket press and old world open fermentation practices to manage their massive scope of 143 hectares.
When he is not making wine, Paul can usually be found tending his cherries just before the summer heat hits.
5 MINUTES WITH PAUL
Q. Who is the greatest influence in your winemaking life?
It’s actually a viticulturist by the name of Ted Briggs. Ted ran the enormous Seppelt Vineyards in its heyday. He used to say that the difference between a good and not so good viticulturist is two weeks. The good ones can read a vine early and plan, and the not so good wait until the vine has shown symptoms which should have been attended to two weeks earlier. This really stuck with me and I think this rings true to this day.
Q. What is your approach to winemaking?
To let the vineyard express itself and allow the fruit to be the hero only ever allowing the oak and winemaking to support rather than dominate
Q. Baileys has many loyal drinkers, how would you describe them?
Many are generational that love the wines and Baileys. We have a loyal band of wine club members which have become friends over the years and brand ambassadors. Making wines at a place with such history is a real privilege.
Q. What winemaking philosophy do you live by?
The key ingredient is great fruit and if this resource is of quality, memorable wines to be proud of will result. Trust your palate and shape and craft wines based on what they look, smell and taste like.
Q. What is your favourite part of the winemaking process?
Vintage - the hustle and bustle full of expectation.
Q. If you could invite one person to share a bottle of your wine with, who would it be?
Alan Bailey. I wish I spent more time with Alan prior to his death. He was renowned story teller and loved this place wholeheartedly.
Q. What is your favourite Baileys of Glenrowan wine and why?
1920s Block Shiraz. This old dry land block delivers great fruit every year no matter what Mother Nature has dealt, simply brilliant
Q. When you are not making wine, what do you enjoy doing?
Fattening cattle and growing Cherries. I am a simple farmer at heart and love sharing our produce around the table with family and friends.
Q. What’s your favourite wine region in the world — other than your own?
Currently I love drinking the wines of Mount Etna – pure, fresh and vital that speak of the Volcano.
Q. What would people be surprised to know about you?
That I own an old T Model Ford that was an old farm Ute from the old family farm.
Q. If you weren’t making wine for a living, what would you be doing?
Sitting on a beach somewhere enjoying fresh seafood and Chablis.
Q. What’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? The most interesting?
An old Chateau D’Aquem after a great home cooked meal with like-minded friends. Sweet, complex, bright, possessing and all with a pure clean finish - quite amazing
Q. What do you love most about Baileys of Glenrowan?
The people. The nature of the winery, runs in our blood and everyone treats it as their own business - acutely aware we are just part of a journey and all wanting to leave a legacy.
Q. Favourite music?
At the moment, the Tesky Brothers are on high rotation, we saw them play live in a grungy old theatre in Castlemaine and they brought the house down! I also can’t go past old favourites like The Eels, Cruel Sea and Johnny Cash.
Q. Favourite book?
‘Wine Hunter’, based on Maurice Oshea. It’s a story filled with passion and the love of a special vineyard in the Hunter Valley.
Q. Favourite movie?
Anchor-man, I laughed all the way through.