People

An impressive portfolio and a passionate team, the winemakers at Mount Langi Ghiran continue to meticulously develop and hone their methods, whilst producing wines that embody the essence of Mount Langi Ghiran.

Darren Rathbone

Darren Rathbone

CEO

Dividing his time between Yering Station, Mount Langi Ghiran and Xanadu Wines, Darren is the CEO and Group Chief Winemaker, involved in the day to day running of the Rathbone Wine Group.

After graduating from Chemical Engineering at Melbourne University in 1995, Darren started work in the wine industry, planting the Laura Barnes vineyard in the Yarra Valley. The Rathbone family purchased Yering Station in 1996 and Darren began planning the new winery and tourism complex.

In this time, Darren travelled to Champagne Devaux and spent time working with Devaux’s head winemaker Claude Thibaut. Here he acquired knowledge of the traditional Champagne making method and determined the design of equipment for producing ‘Yarrabank’, the joint venture with Devaux at Yering Station. Yering Station’s first vintage in the new winery in 1997 was Darren’s first winemaking experience in Australia.

In 2001, Darren received his Masters of Food Science (Oenology) from the internationally recognised wine school UC Davis in California. After finishing the Masters program, Darren travelled to Burgundy, working at Domain Moreau in Chassagne Montrachet, in the Cote de Beaune and assisting in the production of the 2001 vintage.

Darren returned to Australia and Yering Station in December of 2001. In 2002, he and his father Doug developed the strategy of developing a portfolio of high quality complementary wineries, which would become The Rathbone Wine Group. The first opportunity that was acted on was Mount Langi Ghiran in 2002 and then Xanadu in 2005. Darren played an active role in assessing and implementing the acquisitions, integrating each new winery into the group, and setting the direction and quality focus in the vineyard, winery and market.

In 2010, Darren was accepted into the Masters of Business Administration program at Melbourne Business School, and completed his MBA in 2011.

Darren continues to play an active role in all aspect of the business in the Rathbone Wine Group

Ben Haines

Ben Haines

CHIEF WINEMAKER

Ben Haines has an incredibly deep passion and understanding of wine. Ben’s whole being is dedicated to the process of winemaking and the pursuit of excellence. His enthusiasm is hard to rival and his approach enviable. In the past, the Mount Langi Ghiran Chief Winemaker has chosen to work with vineyards of the highest potential and produced wines that express the personality and complexity of the site. With a slew of accolades to his name, including Australian and New Zealand Young Winemaker of the Year awarded by The Wine Society. Ben is certainly a winemaker worth watching.

Ben’s ‘thirst for knowledge’ has taken him far and wide, determined to learn from the masters the secrets and the art of winemaking. Ben cultivated his love of Rhone varieties in Nagambie Lakes, and can draw on a wealth of experience accumulated from various regions of South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Europe and the USA.

Ben’s appointment as Mount Langi Ghiran’s Chief Winemaker is poetic in a sense. Ben has a passion for cool-climate Shiraz and Langi is a benchmark in Australian cool-climate sites. To leave the last words to Ben

“The feeling this place gives you is indescribable; you simply cannot deny the heritage and the sheer beauty and energy of this very special vineyard. There is so much to acknowledge of the past here at Langi – the more you dig, the more you find. This is part of what makes the future so exciting.”

Damien Sheehan

Damien Sheehan

VITICULTURIST

Mount Langi Ghiran Viticulturist and current Chair of Wine Victoria, Damien Sheehan, has an overriding passion for food and wine. While he enjoys applying science and intuition when managing vines; it was the romance of the vines that first attracted Damien to the field. Graduating in 1991, Damien has been in the industry for over 20 years and has been a part of the Mount Langi Ghiran team since 1996 and becoming General Manager in 2006

Damien loves the industry he works in, it is why he involves himself in Wine Victoria, the state organisation; he is keen to make a contribution to the industry that he is passionate about. When first contemplating entering the field Damien spoke with Trevor Mast who advised him that the field needs more “viti”. After that, Damien often bumped into Trevor wherever his studies and work took him and whilst Damien was working in Barooga NSW, Trevor offered Damien his dream job as viticulturist at Mount Langi Ghiran. Not only was the position perfect, he couldn’t wait to work alongside the great Trevor Mast.

Now, nearing 20 years at Langi, Damien has experienced the vicissitudes of fortune but can attest that Langi has always produced spectacular fruit, sometimes against the odds, and for Damien this is a testament to Mount Langi Ghiran’s unique climate. In the true blue Langiphile’s very own words

“Sometimes all you need is a great site, great vines and a friendly climate, Langi continues to cast its spell on all who work here – well, that’s my excuse for sticking around for so long!”

Jess Robertson

Jess Robertson

WINEMAKER

If you were looking for Jess Robertson during vintage, go straight to the action and you will find Jess knee deep in fruit, covered in splashes of red wine and completely immersed in her far away world of wine. Jess’s love for wine begun when she was young, picking grapes alongside her mum and learning to love the end result from her dad, and his appreciation of wine.
Jess’s aptitude for science found her working in the laboratory of a winery in central Victoria while studying for her degree in winemaking. The grounding that lab work gave Jess she counts as critical in developing her ability as a winemaker.

Like many with passion for wine, Jess gathered winemaking experience overseas. Working in successive vintages in Rheinhessen, Germany, Bordeaux, France and Oregon, USA. Back home Jess was just as busy working vintages in Great Western, Macedon Ranges, Mildura and the Yarra Valley.

When Jess arrived at Langi it was as if she had come full circle. This is what Jess had to say

“I remember that on a uni excursion we visited Langi, I would have been about 22 at the time, and I just couldn’t believe how beautiful this place was. I remember thinking how much I’d love to work here but it seemed ‘so far away’… and now here I am.”