Bill Brand’s grandfather stepped off the train at Coonawarra Station in 1901 and started making wine. At the time, the region was a stronghold for sheep farming. In 1950, Bill’s dad Eric Brand established Brand’s Laira winery on what was known as the wrong side of the tracks – the side without the sheep. “When I was a kid, it was the graziers, not the vignerons, that were celebrated,” Bill recalls. “Today, almost every square inch of Coonawarra terra rossa soil is under vine, and it’s the grapes growers’ names that are celebrated. It seems I grew up on the right side of the tracks after all.”
Rich deep reds from terra rossa soil
The long thin strip of dusty red terra rossa soil in Coonawarra, South Australia is revered for its suitability to growing red wine grapes, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of Australia’s top producers are famed for their collectable Coonawarra reds including Wynns, Parker Estate, The Ridge, Riddoch, Balnaves and Bowen Estate to name a few.
A million years in the making
The layer of terra rossa soil lies over free-draining chalky white limestone bedrock, created over almost a million years from the residue an ancient seabed. This base provides ideal drainage, leaving the vines lean and fighting to thrive, pushing roots deep into the limestone to reach underground water. The resulting grapes and wines show an incredible layer of intensity, colour and character, unique to Coonawarra.
The climate in Coonawarra is similar to Bordeaux which is probably another reason why it’s so renowned for its Cabernet Sauvignon.
Meet Right Side of the Tracks winemaker, Bill Brand
Bill Brand’s family have been winemaking in Coonawarra for three generations, giving Bill the opportunity to work alongside family winemakers. Through his career Bill has been mentored by some of Coonawarra’s icon winemakers – Bill Redman, Owen Redman, Ken Ward, Sid Hamilton and of course, Eric Brand. Studied at Charles Sturt College, Wagga Wagga, under greats like Brian Croser, Tony Jordan and Andrew Pirie. Along with his father Eric and brother Jim, Bill developed the Brands Laira winery and label.
Bill’s favourite wine moment
Sharing a Magnum of 1928 Bollinger over lunch with the Bollinger family in their Chateau.
Bill’s winemaking Philosophy
1. Grow the best quality fruit to suit the style of wine I am making.
2. Pay attention to detail during every part of the winemaking process.
3. Experiencing the satisfaction of people enjoying drinking my wines and listen to their critique.
“My philosophy is to grow the best quality fruit to suit the style of wine I am making.”
- Bill Brand
- South Australia
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Right Side of the Tracks