I recently spent some time with Four Winds winemaker Campbell Meeks at their Kyeema vineyard and winery, neatly positioned on a broad saddle of elevated land just off the Barton Highway in Murrumbateman.  Campbell is a passionate, considered winemaker with a laser focus on crafting wines with a sense of time and place and cool climate elegance. 

What’s your grape growing/winemaking philosophy? 

I take a careful and considered approach to winemaking in the sense that we aim to produce wines that primarily express true varietal definition while maintaining a sense of place, derived from the premium fruit grown across our multiple vineyard site locations.  We vinify the fruit from the various site locations separately and strive to produce the best possible result for each site, and then blend to a quality finished wine that consumers will enjoy drinking from the get-go.  As a qualified chef as well as a background in research, winemaking has also provided me with the ability to focus on the individual components of wines and what practical and scientific measures should be applied to get the best results.  We aim to preserve the primary fruit characters of our wines while providing structure and elegance for the best drinking experience for our customers.

Enjoying an amazing gourmet wood-fired pizza is all part of the Four Winds Vineyard experience

Open 11 am – 4 pm Thursday – Sunday, Four Winds is a must-do when visiting Yass Valley

What’s your journey to becoming the winemaker for Four Winds look like? 
 

I began my working career as a chef in Sydney, working with some high-end restaurants.  I then changed tack and studied science for a couple of years, before heading to Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga to study winemaking.  I spent the 2006 and 07 vintages at Chandon in the Yarra Valley, before heading back to CSU in Wagga in 2008 to become involved in the CSU’s research winemaking program.  Having wanted to travel abroad all my life, I then travelled around the world for 14 months, including several months in South America, including Columbia, which had a profound impact on my life experience.  I then worked in McLaren vale in 2012 with Maxwell Wines. In 2013 I led the CSU’s research winemaking endeavours, making over 200 experimental, small-batch wines.  I gained valuable scientific experience in the study of winemaking nutrients including malolactic cultures and yeast strains.   In 2016, I spent a vintage in the Southern Rhone in France.  I joined the Four Winds team in November of 2020. 

Owners John and Sarah Collingwood – a driving force of talent and passion in the Four Winds Vineyard family business

 What varieties/styles do you most enjoy making and drinking? 
 

My favourite wine variety to drink is fine and elegant Chardonnay, with my most memorable wine experiences being with Chablis (Chardonnay from the Chablis region in France).  The elegance and finesse of Chablis can be sublime, as with cool climate Chardonnays produced in our Yass Valley region.   

Four winds – live music every weekend!
Photo credit: Megan Cassidy

What is something that is unique about your winery? 

The Yass Valley region is well known for quality Riesling production, but we added a unique Riesling experience to our stable of wines with the introduction of a Sparkling Riesling, which has been a hit with our customers in recent years. 

Four Winds Kyeema Shiraz Viognier NV is also our Yass Valley Times Wine Of The Week!

Is there anything about making wine that you fear? 

I have good control over the science of winemaking, with a considered focus on the nuts and bolts required for quality winemaking production, so I don’t fear the things that can be controlled.  I do fear things that are not totally in my control including vintage conditions and various aspects of the winemaking process, such as reduction, that can alter the state and quality of wine if not monitored and addressed appropriately. 

What’s your favourite food and wine combination? 

I have a pretty relaxed approach to matching wine with food – find food that you like and wine that you enjoy and you can’t go wrong.  However, I do thoroughly enjoy the experience of Manchego Cheese (Spanish Sheep Milk cheese) with Chablis or a good Aussie or Kiwi Chardonnay. 

 If you have a Cellar Door, why should people call in? 

We offer all of our wines for tasting, led by our fantastic cellar door team or you can enjoy our wines by the glass or bottle for those wishing to sit back, relax, enjoy a gourmet, wood-fired pizza and soak in the ambience and scenery of our wonderful Four Winds Vineyard location. 

Brent Lello

Yass Valley Times Wine Columnist.

Photo Credits: Megan Cassidy Photography

Enjoy this week’s Yass Valley Times winning wine from Four Winds Vineyard with our sixty-second swirl