Returning to Australia, he focused on developing and expanding the Rathbone Wine Group by purchasing Mount Langi Ghiran in 2003 and overseeing the construction of the current cellar door, offices and winemaking facilities. Darren’s focus has been on continual improvement of the wine style in collaboration with the winemaking and viticulture team whilst maintaining the incredible vision Trevor Mast first saw in the property.
Today, Darren is the CEO and Winemaker of the Rathbone Wine Group which still proudly remains a family owned and operated business. Darren works alongside his father Doug Rathbone (Chairman) and brother Brad Rathbone (Director of Exports in China). He splits his time overseeing the production of the wines at Yering Station, Mount Langi Ghiran and Xanadu wineries, as well as developing the business across Australia and international markets. Darren is also an active wine show judge with significant judging experience within the Australian wine show system.
Darren’s love of wine started at home, growing up in a family that enjoyed coming together around wine and food – it was always part of the Rathbone’s family meals.
In 1995 upon Darren’s graduation from Chemical Engineering, his father Doug Rathbone and uncle Graeme Rathbone purchased a vineyard site in the Yarra Valley – now Yering Station. Darren’s first job was planting vines in this vineyard, which was named in honour of their grandmother, Laura Barnes. Doug noted Darren’s enthusiasm, believing it was “too big to be a hobby, too small to be a business” in its then-current guise. This was the turning point where an enjoyment of drinking wine became a passionate career.
In the pursuit of knowledge and learning, Darren was accepted into the Master of Science, Oenology program at UC Davis in California in 1999. Upon completion in 2002, Darren complemented his technical study by undergoing various winemaking assignments in acclaimed global wine regions including Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and the Napa Valley.
Adam returned to Langi in 2016 with 32 harvests under his belt, drawn back to the relaxed lifestyle of the region along with his love of Grampians Shiraz. Making Chief Winemaker in 2018, he says “it’s hard to deny how unique the site of Langi actually is. Not only do we have one of the longest growing seasons which adds to the complexity; the nature and the landscape are amazing and we have a strong united team all aiming to make some of the best wines in the country.”
It’s been a coming home of sorts with Adam continuing to honour Trevor Mast’s legacy, creating top quality wines with ultimate cellaring potential in his favourite place in the world. “I’ll often be out in the vineyard and look up and think – why would you want to be anywhere else.”
Adam was born and bred in the Grampians with deep ties to Mount Langi starting his career in 1998 as a young cellar hand under Trevor Mast. Being mentored by one of the most iconic figures of cool climate winemaking ignited Adam’s passion and provided the grounding to travel the world furthering his knowledge. Adam worked in wineries across the Pyrenees, Margaret River (including our sister winery Xanadu), Bordeaux and Napa Valley.
During the five vintages spent in Bordeaux, Adam’s days were filled with harvesting and winemaking and his nights with wine matched dinners made by Michelin star chefs flown in specially by the owner of Chateau Carsin, Juha Berglund.
Adam describes his time in the Napa Valley as extremely fulfilling and satisfying working alongside some of the smartest people in the business, with high expectations of perfection given access to all the latest in research and technology.
Damien knows too well the vagaries of the seasons having experienced his fair share of droughts and floods but can attest that Langi has always produced spectacular fruit, sometimes against the odds – a true testament to the unique site.
“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!”
Whilst Damien enjoys the science of viticulture, it was the romance of the vines that first attracted him to the field. In the industry for nearly 30 years and with Mount Langi Ghiran for 25, there’s no doubt it’s been a long term love affair.
When first contemplating entering the field, Damien spoke to Trevor Mast who advised him the field needed more “viti”. Damien and Trevor’s paths often crossed over the years, with Trevor ultimately offering Damien his dream job as viticulturist at Mount Langi Ghiran in 1996. Not only was the position perfect, he couldn’t wait to work alongside the great man himself.