Handcrafted Italian wines grown and made right here in Mudgee.
Welcome to First Ridge. Our vineyard and cellar door are located just ten kilometres from the beautiful town of Mudgee; Located on rolling ridges at an elevation of 580 meters the vineyard overlooks the beautiful Cudgegong river valley.
We have been producing premium wine grapes for some of the best wineries in the country for eighteen years. We are now dedicated to producing the best Italian varietals under our own First Ridge label.
In 2003 Viticulturist Colin Millott teamed up with John and Helen Nicholas, to manage and develop the vineyard and explore and implement the very best viticultural practices appropriate to our location to optimise grape and wine quality. It is our goal to see First Ridge evolve into one of Australia's premium Italian varietal wine producers.
Colin's passion for the wine industry began thirty years ago in McLaren Vale at Coriole Winery, where he absorbed all aspects of growing, making and selling wine. After working for Hazelgrove Wines in Coonawarra and Rosemount Estate in Langhorne Creek, he moved to Mudgee in 1995 to manage Rosemount's Hill of Gold and Mountain Blue vineyards, and has come to have great admiration for the wines produced by the region.
Art and science.
James Manners, Winemaker
For us, winemaking is a wonderful balance between art and science, the challenge is to walk that line with a light hand and allow the vineyard and individual parcels of fruit to shine. There are many clichés in our industry, however, some ring true. The vineyard, without exception, is the source of quality. The job of the winemaker is to understand and identify this quality and guide it thoughtfully with appropriate winemaking techniques and inputs. This will produce wines that are a reflection of the place, season and variety and not the individuals personality.
James comes to First Ridge with wide-ranging experience both here and abroad. Having made wine extensively in Mudgee for Orlando and Robert Oatley he has an all-encompassing grasp of the region. Added to his invaluable experience was time making wine at Inniskillin in Canada and Domaine des Collines in Bordeaux. He is a well-travelled and experienced winemaker who understands fruit and how to coax the best out of it.
What is more important the variety or the soil? As with marriage, it's the match that counts, the mutual exaltation. Some say our soils are low in fertility, I say the poverty in these soils is priceless. Balance is the key staying lean shouldn't mean malnutrition.
Our vineyard is located across a series of ridges overlooking the Cudgegong valley, in the summer season the altitude of the ridges creates thermal breezes that ventilate the vines resulting in reductions of excessive heat and humidity which is so beneficial for the production of quality fruit.
Connecting with ancient soils.
Colin Millott, Viticulturist
Since the beginning I have prioritised working amongst the vines, convinced that to create good wines you must care for the vineyard with love and dedication. Establishing a deep connection with the land and a continuous exchange of learning and understanding for the needs of the vine in every moment throughout the year.
Colin's passion for the wine industry began thirty years ago in McLaren Vale at Coriole Winery, where he absorbed all aspects of growing, making and selling wine. After working for Hazelgrove Wines in Coonawarra and for Rosemount Estate in Langhorne Creek, he moved to Mudgee in 1995 to manage Rosemount's Hill of Gold and Mountain Blue vineyards. He has come to have great admiration for the wines produced by the region, especially the Italian varietals which are so well suited to the Mudgee microclimate and terroir.
Growing and producing grapes is a very hands on profession, a good viticulturist is always aware of the health and well being of the land and vineyard. Pruning, canopy manipulation, a little fruit thinning when clusters overlap and monitoring the leaves daily will tell you when watering is needed. These are but a few of the practices that are essential to premium quality wine. You will taste the difference in your glass.
It never ceases to amaze me and fill me with wonderment how wine expresses itself . To experience this, your tools are your senses. Eyes, Nose, Taste, Feel.
Set the table and open a bottle.