In the 1970s, Ron Laughton used to drive from Melbourne to Rochester and back, as part of his job in the dairy industry. He would pass through Heathcote on his travels and notice the trees. He thought that perhaps the soil that grew those trees might be good for wine.
“I grew up on a farm and then I trained in food science,” Ron explains. “I went on to work in big industry, including dairy, but I was always drawn back to the land. When I think about it now, my maternal forebears were Scottish raspberry growers so perhaps there’s some inheritance in the green-gene from them.”
The thought of growing grapes and making wine had been in the back of Ron’s mind for a while. He had travelled overseas with his wife, Elva, and they both worked in the food industry in the UK for a few years. “It was during that time we were exposed to wines from all around the world,” he says. “I suppose I was a bit of a smart ass and I thought I could make something better than what was coming out of Australia at that time.”
Fast-forward a few years and Ron and Elva were back in Australia and growing a family. Ron, driving through Heathcote, saw a ‘for sale’ sign and discovered it was a little eight-acre vineyard. The real estate agent met him there and told him the grapes were: ‘something that starts in s and ends in z…?’
When Ron asked if that would be Shiraz and received a ‘yes, I think that’s it’ he knew this was the place for him. That land became what is now referred to as ‘Emily’s Paddock’, named after eldest daughter, Emily.
An exert from the recently published book, ‘A Sense of Place’, written by Sonia Anthony and Amy Doak. To read Emily and Ron’s complete journey and the story behind Jasper Hill Winery, purchase the book online here: https://oftheworldbooks.com/product/asenseofplace/