Q & A with Terry Bennett
Terry, can you tell us what inspired you to turn your dream of starting a vineyard into reality?
As a farmer by trade, I grew apples for many years before turning my attention to wine. Initially I was looking for a weekend hobby, planting 6 rows of vines.
This quickly turned into more than a hobby and all of my free time was taken up in the vineyard. At this point, I decided to make it a full time business and the vineyard and winery restaurant grew from there.
Where does the name ‘Home Hill’ come from?
My wife Rosemary and I were driving from Cairns to Noosa and we drove through a town called Home Hill – it was here that the name was first thought of.
Our family home of many years also sits on the hill above the vineyard where we take in the views of the surrounding vines. This also seemed fitting for the name Home Hill.
When was the first vintage produced and can you tell us about the growth of the vineyard since then?
The first rows of vines were planted in 1992 and the first vintage produced in 1998.
We’ve gradually planted an extra hectare of vines every few years, meaning that we now have over 6 hectares of vineyard.
We started winning gold medals and trophies in 2000, and still continually win many awards around the country at wine shows, including international success at the Tri Nations Wine Show in 2006, taking out the Best Pinot Noir with our 2005 vintage.
What has been your proudest moment as the founder of Home Hill?
By far, my proudest moment has been winning the Jimmy Watson trophy for the Best 1st and 2nd Year Old Red Wine at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show in 2015. This is undoubtedly the most coveted and sought after award in Australia and to take it out for the 2014 Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir was one of the most memorable moments of my life.
We also won the James Halliday trophy for the same wine, at the same show, which further topped off our great success.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge has been our climate and the severe frosts in the Huon Valley in Spring which burns the shoots off the vines. We get a lot of these frosts, therefore have implemented an irrigation system which has minimised the impact considerably.
Another challenge, is that our wine production is not large enough to meet the increasing demand for our wines. After winning the Jimmy Watson, we had to pull our wholesale sales nationally and focus on our local suppliers and our cellar door sales as to not run out of wine before the following years vintage was released. This is still an ongoing issue, but also a positive for Home Hill as our wines are always in high demand.
Where do you see the vineyard going in the next ten years?
We’ve recently bought another property with 35 acres which is in very close proximity to the Mountain River and existing vineyard.
This will ensure that we have plenty of room for expansion, and access to a larger water source, making growth possible if we choose to plant more vines.