There have been a number of changes at Pipers Brook Vineyard in Tasmania just ahead of the 2016 vintage.
René Bezemer, the chief winemaker who would have been participating in his 27th vintage, has stood down from his role due to health issues that have plagued him over the past 12 months.
Bezemer quit just weeks after Pipers Brook enjoyed great success at the 2016 Tasmanian Wine Show.
“René Bezemer’s contribution to the success of Pipers Brook Vineyard over the past three decades cannot be overstated,” said John Hosken, CEO of parent company Kreglinger.
“His story is very much one of a local boy made good. Born and raised at George Town – less than 50km from Pipers Brook Vineyard – René first stepped onto the property as a 19-year-old, then employed by his father’s building construction company.
“After completing work on a new winery here, René stayed on as a cellar hand under Pipers Brook Vineyard founder Dr Andrew Pirie. René was eventually appointed chief winemaker in 2002.
“His methodical approach to wine making brought our company a great many accolades. Recent successes included two international trophies for sparkling wine in Hong Kong in 2014, and Wine Companion over the past six editions. Pipers Brook Vineyard’s much-coveted ‘5 red stars’ winery rating in the Halliday Wine Annual.
“It didn’t matter whether it was riesling or gewürztraminer, pinot noir or sparkling wine, René
was a master craftsman and his departure due to ill-health has left big shoes to fill. We certainly wish him well for his recovery.”
Bryan Widstrand, an American who is also a talented musician, has been appointed senior winemaker and two of Tasmania's most experienced winemakers employed as consultants for vintage; Natalie Fryar and Peter Dredge.
Widstrand has worked alongside Bezemer since 2015 while Fryar and Dredge are consummate professionals.
“Natalie spent 14 years establishing Jansz Tasmania as one of the country’s flagship sparkling wine brands and has been making premium sparkling wine since 1996,” Hosken said. “Peter joined Bay of Fires winery in 2010 as winemaker/manager, and in 2013 was a worthy finalist in the Wine Society's Young Winemaker of the Year awards.
“Both Natalie and Peter were so inspired by their experiences in Tasmania that they recently
decided to leave their respective employers to strike out on their own with premium brands based around Tasmanian-sourced wine grapes. We’re grateful to have them on board for this vintage.”
# This is an edited version of a story that first appeared in the Launceston Sunday Examiner