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Beechworth's Granite Cave

The granite cellar at Giaconda Vineyard is the latest project of exceptional winemaker, Rick Kinzbrunner. Nick Stock travels to Beechworth in search of chardonnay, a granite cave and a vision for the future of Giaconda.

Rick Kinzbrunner has an enigmatic presence. Tall, slim and considered, he also has a reputation as a bit of a recluse. It may seem unsurprising then that his latest construct at his Giaconda property in Victoria’s Beechworth, happens to be a cave.

“My goal was always to grow the wine in granite soil,” Kinzbrunner says of his newest cellar, drilled and blasted into the granite rock at Giaconda. For him, it is the last link in the chain of a terroir to which he is deeply endeared: vines grow in granite, their grapes fermented and matured in a granite cellar.

Underground, the physical conditions are vastly better for wine maturation than the previous above ground facilities. Naturally cooled, the air is humid and alcohol is more likely to lower over time in this high humidity than concentrate in the arid, evaporative environment up on the surface.

Kinzbrunner calculates that there will be an average nett loss of around 0.5% in finished alcohol in wines made in the cave rather than a gain of around 0.5% in above ground conditions. This means he is able to deliver full, rich and powerful chardonnay at levels of around 13% alcohol by volume, instead of the previous norm that fell around 14% and without employing mech-anical climate control.

“I’ve stuck to my guns, refined my style and the wines I’m making now are the result. It’s the traditional stuff that’s probably closer to what they were doing hundreds of years ago rather than what many people are doing now.” RK

He has seen instant results in terms of refining wine style and quality. The first wine to emerge having been totally vinified inside the granite cave is the 2010 Giaconda Chardonnay and if this wine is anything to go by, the assessment is accurate.

Kinzbrunner is not prone to exaggeration and as one of Australia’s most capable and experienced winemakers; he has little need to stretch the truth. “It’s the first wine I’ve made that I’ve been truly happy with,” he says, “the culmination of everything I’ve tried to do and wanted to achieve.” The 2010 chardonnay is easily the best rendition of his signature white wine to date and the 2011 is developing handsomely in its shadow.

The inspiration for the cave project stems from Kinzbrunner’s time working in California. However, the impetus to embark on its construction is born of his regard for the granite terroir at Giaconda and the desire to chase down the very best and most unique quality in the wines grown and made there. His focus in terms of winemaking is both narrowing and deepening.

Nick Stock, Alquimie, Edition One

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Stockists

  • 13 Steps Restaurant
    14 Barnard Street
    Bright VIC 3741
    (03) 5750 1313
  • Beechworth Provender
    18 Camp Street
    Beechworth VIC 3747
    (03) 5728 2650
  • Broadgauge Restaurant
    Station Building, Elgin Blv
    Wodonga VIC 3690
    0419 700 619
  • Cellar Door Wine Store
    62 Ford Street
    Beechworth VIC 3747
    (03) 5728 2882
  • Italy On A Plate
    1594 Snow Road
    Milawa VIC 3678
    (03) 5727 3850
  • Provenance Restaurant
    86 Ford Street
    Beechworth VIC 3747
    (03) 5728 1786
  • Simones Restaurant
    98 Gavan Street
    Bright VIC 3741
    (03) 5755 2266
  • Tanswells Commercial Hotel
    50 Ford Street
    Beechworth VIC 3747
    (03) 5728 1480
  • Armadale Cellars
    813-817 High Street
    Armadale VIC 3143
    03 9509 3055
  • Auscellardoor
    12/345 Plummer Street
    Port Melbourne VIC 3207
    03 9646 4099
  • Banks Fine Wine
    134 Mollison Street
    Kyneton VIC 3444
    03 5422 6682
  • Blackhearts and Sparrows
    88 Punt Road
    Windsor VIC 3181
    03 9510 6385
  • Boccaccio Cellars
    1030 Burke Road
    Balwyn VIC 3103
    03 9817 2257
  • Bottega Tasca
    321 Lygon Street
    Carlton VIC 3053
    03 9347 7379
  • Burwood Cellars
    1340 Toorak Road, Burwood Village
    Camberwell VIC 3124
    03 9889 4643
  • Winestyle
    1/177 Salmon Street
    Port Melbourne VIC 3207
    03 8644 4040
  • Colliban Food Store
    Po Box 220
    Trentham VIC 3458
    03 5424 1172
  • Como Wine and Spirits
    Cnr Toorak Rd And River Street
    South Yarra VIC 3141
    03 9827 0934
  • Decanters By The Bay
    174 Nott Street
    Port Melbourne VIC 3207
    03 9676 9440
  • Fine Wine Merchant
    Shop 9, 87 Mount Eliza Way
    Mount Eliza VIC 3930
    03 9787 3646
  • Frank's Fine Wines
    11-13 Salisbury Avenue
    Blackburn VIC 3130
    03 9877 4500
  • Gertrude Street Enoteca
    229 Gertrude Street
    Fitzroy VIC 3065
    03 9415 8262
  • Hoffmans Cellars
    87 Hoffmans Road
    Niddrie VIC 3042
    03 9331 1333
  • International Fine Wines
    19-21 Russell Street
    Abbotsford VIC 3067
    03 8415 0070
  • King and Godfree
    293 Lygon Street
    Carlton VIC 3053
    03 9347 1619
  • Kooyong Cellars
    473 Glenferrie Road
    Kooyong VIC 3144
    03 9822 2954
  • Macphee's
    31-37 Buckhurst Street
    South Melbourne VIC 3205
    03 9696 2300
  • MW Wines Pty Ltd
    1 Marine Parade
    Abbotsford VIC 3067
    03 9419 6990
  • Nicks Wine Merchants
    10-12 Jackson Court
    East Doncaster VIC 3109
    03 9822 9100
  • Parkhill Cellars
    45 Errol Street
    North Melbourne VIC 3051
    03 9328 1132
  • Prince Wine Store
    177 Bank Street
    South Melbourne VIC 3205
    03 9686 3033
  • Randall The Wine Merchant
    324-326 Pakington Street
    Newtown VIC 3220
    03 5223 1141
  • Rathdowne Cellars
    348 Rathdowne Street
    Carlton North VIC 3054
    03 9349 3366
  • Sunshine Creek
    766 Burke Road
    Camberwell VIC 3124
    03 9882 0954
  • The European
    161 Spring Street
    Melbourne VIC 3000
    03 9654 0811
  • The Winestar Centre
    13 Mcgregors Drive
    Keilor Park VIC 3042
    03 9261 4444
  • Vintage Cellars Ashburton
    261 High Street
    Ashburton VIC 3147
    03 9885 8199
  • Wine House - Old and Rare Wines
    133 Queensbridge Street
    Southbank VIC 3006
    03 9698 8000
  • Woodend Wine Store
    42E Anslow Street
    Woodend VIC 3442
    03 5427 2228
  • Annandale Cellars
    119 Johnston Street
    Annandale NSW 2038
    02 9660 1947
  • Best Cellars
    91 Crown Street
    Sydney East NSW 2000
    02 9361 3733
  • Camperdown Cellars
    233 Victoria Street
    Darlinghurst NSW 2010
    02 9380 6133
  • Corkscrew Cellars Rose Bay
    93 O'Sullivan Road
    Rose Bay NSW 2029
    02 9327 2354
  • Cremorne Cellars
    45A Spofforth Street
    Cremorne NSW 2090
    02 9953 1331
  • Crown West Cellars
    428 Crown Street
    Wollongong NSW 2500
    02 4228 9842
  • Darlinghurst Cellars
    140 Liverpool Street
    Darlinghurst NSW 2010
    02 9360 4695
  • Five Way Cellars
    4 Heeley Street
    Paddington NSW 2021
    02 9360 4242
  • Jd Cellars
    133 Alexander Street
    Crows Nest NSW 2065
    02 9965 7224
  • Kemeny's Food and Liquor
    137-147 Bondi Road
    Bondi NSW 2026
    02 9389 6422
  • Langton's Brokerage
    Level 1, 26 Waterloo Street
    Surry Hills NSW 2010
    02 8507 2662
  • North Sydney Cellars
    189 Miller Street(Cnr Berry St)
    North Sydney NSW 2060
    02 9954 0090
  • Northbridge Cellars
    153 Sailors Bay Road
    Northbridge NSW 2063
    02 8090 6793
  • Palm Beach Wine Co
    1109 Barrenjoey Road
    Palm Beach NSW 2108
    02 9974 4304
  • Pyrmont Cellars
    119 Harris Street
    Pyrmont NSW 2009
    02 9571 8555
  • Sixty Darling Street Fine Wines
    60 Darling Street
    Balmain East NSW 2041
    02 9818 3077
  • Summer Hill Wine Store
    7 Lackey Street
    Summer Hill NSW 2130
    02 9798 7282
  • The Australian Wine Centre
    Shop 3, 1 Alfred Street, Circular Quay
    Sydney NSW 2000
    02 9247 2755
  • The Grove Cellars
    81 Hillcrest Avenue
    Hurstville Grove NSW 2220
    02 9580 4464
  • The Oak Barrel
    152 Elizabeth Street
    Sydney NSW 2000
    02 9264 3022
  • United Cellars
    179-181 Palmer Street
    Darlinghurst NSW 2010
    02 8915 5300
  • Vaucluse Cellars
    58 South Head Road
    Vaucluse NSW 2030
    02 9337 1765
  • Vintage Blue Wines
    418 Kent Street
    Sydney NSW 2000
    02 9286 3344
  • Wine Culture
    23 Babbage Road
    Roseville Chase NSW 2069
    02 9882 1788
  • Georges Liquor Stable
    17 Dundas Court Phillip
    Canberra ACT 2606
    02 6285 3075
  • Ferry Road Wine and Beer
    Shop 3, 107 Ferry Road
    Southport QLD 4215
    07 5526 3103
  • Grandview Hotel
    Heritage Precinct,49 North Street
    Cleveland Point QLD 4163
    07 3286 1002
  • Stewarts Wine Co
    The Barracks, Shop 10 61 Petrie Terrace
    Brisbane QLD 4000
    07 3018 9070
  • The Wine Emporium
    Tenancy E2, Gasworks 76B, Skyring Terrace
    Newstead QLD 4006
    07 3252 1117
  • Wineaway Pty Ltd
    Unit 3 - 276 Abbotsford Road
    Bowen Hills QLD 4006
    07 3852 1891
  • Australian Wine Centre
    4 Truro Avenue
    Kingswood SA 5062
    08 8272 7248
  • East End Cellars
    25 Vardon Avenue
    Adelaide SA 5000
    08 8232 5300
  • Edinburgh Cellars
    1-7 High Street
    Mitcham SA 5062
    08 8373 2753
  • Melbourne St Cellars
    93 Melbourne Street
    North Adelaide SA 5006
    08 8267 1533
  • Parade Cellars
    Shop 15, 161-175 The Parade
    Norwood SA 5067
    08 8332 0317
  • Print Hall
    Brookfield Place, 125 St Georges Terrace
    Perth WA 6000
    08 6282 0000
  • Raffles Hotel
    67-71 Canning Beach Road
    Applecross WA 6153
    08 9314 9010
  • Scarborough Cellars
    166A Scarborough Beach Rd
    Scarborough WA 6019
    08 9341 1437
  • Steves Fine Wine and Food
    30 The Avenue
    Nedlands WA 6009
    08 9386 3336