Matt Burton's winemaking philosophy has been shaped by the wineries where he's worked and the generous mentors with whom he has shared a glass or three.
Now he's been named among the eight finalists for the 2021 Winemaker of the Year, by Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine.
"To be considered for Australia's most prestigious wine industry award is utterly humbling and tremendously exciting," Burton says.
"As a small family-owned boutique producer, I am so proud of my super-talented team who help bring our winemaking dreams to life. This nomination is just a fantastic validation of what we do."
His parents Geoff Burton and Professor Sharon Bell purchased the two hectare vineyard in Gundaroo in 2006, with the intention of using it as an escape from the city.
But in 2009, Burton made a shiraz that won a gold medal at the NSW Wine Awards and they soon realised it was going to be more than a weekend hobby.
In 2017 they opened the cellar door on Cork Street, alongside the award-winning Grazing restaurant.
There's also a cellar door and vineyard in Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley and grapes are also sourced from the Hilltops region via Freeman Vineyards and Moppity Vineyards.
Awards judge Peter Bourne praised Burton's approach to winemaking and his business.
"Burton has an entrepreneurial streak with two small, warm and inviting cellar doors: one in old Pokolbin schoolhouse on MacDonald's Road, aptly named Gundog Hunter Cellar; and Gourmet Pantry and Cork St Cellars in Gundaroo," Bourne said.
"Burton has his Gundog Estate label plus a standalone brand, Indomitus, to push the winemaking envelope. For extra fun, he collaborates with Dylan McMahon to make wine under the Burton McMahon label."
Burton said the mastery of a craft like wine making was a lifetime's work and he felt like he was only halfway there.
"Winemaking has not only allowed me to indulge my passion and creativity, but it has also provided a platform to affect positive change in our community via our social and environmental sustainability efforts, which are equally important to me," he says.
"Our approach to business aims to combine sustainable long-term growth with positive outcomes for the community, environment and business stakeholders alike. This is why we look to longer-term horizons rather than focusing on short-term profitability."
Sustainability has become a driving force for Gundog Estate in recent years. It is a concept that is at the heart of what they do, and guides many, if not all, of their key business decisions. Environmentally, in collaboration with partner 15 Trees, an organisation which helps individuals and businesses reduce their carbon footprint and combat the effects of climate change, Gundog Estate's tree purchase tally recently clocked more than 1500. These trees and shrubs are now being used in native regeneration projects across the country, where natural habitats are being restored, delivering positive environmental outcomes.
Burton's enthusiastic move toward sustainable viticulture and winemaking also continues and is reflected in the team's recent embrace of biological farming practices, the use of organic fertilisers, and plant-based fining products.
As a direct result, Gundog Estate became carbon neutral earlier in the year.
The other finalists are: Matt Harrop, Curly Flat; Samantha Connew, Stargazer; Sue Bell, Bellwether Wines; John Hughes, Rieslingfreak; Keith Mugford, Moss Wood; Clare Halloran and Adam McCallum, Tarrawarra; and Sarah Crowe, Yarra Yering.
Clonakilla's Tim Kirk won the national award in 2013.
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