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William Downie Wines

William “Bill” Downie is widely considered one of the best winemakers in Australia. Born and raised in Gippsland, he has been making wine since the late 1990s in various places before establishing his own label in 2003.

A Little History

Bill’s winemaking journey began in his home region, working at Bass Phillip. This was followed with a quick stint at De Bortoli in the Yarra Valley, where he completed the 2001 vintage as a cellar hand. Afterwards, Bill moved to Burgundy for four years, though returned to De Bortoli for several vintages.

William Downie Wines

William Downie established his own label in 2003 with the intention of producing pure wines that reflect their place of origin. He uses purchased grapes from older vines to make his own wines. The wines are made in the most natural way possible, avoiding the use of pumps, filtration and fining.

The first wines under the William Downie Label were vinified at De Bortoli and were a range of regionally expressive Pinot Noirs; one wine each from Gippsland, the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Valley. Although each wine is made from Pinot Noir, they are more different than similar to each other.

In 2005, Bill and his wife, Rachel, settled into a cosy and fully functioning farm, now dubbed Guendulain Farm. Guendulain Farm includes a vineyard, orchard, vegetable garden and also produces pork, lamb, beef and poultry. From 2005 to 2016, the William Downie wines were vinified and raised in the dirt floor winery adjacent to Bill and Rachel’s home. In 2017, Bill and his friend and colleague, Patrick Sullivan, took over the Wild Dog winery and 11 hectares spread across five distinct sites in the Baw Baw Shire of Gippsland. Vinification has moved to Wild Dog but the barrels are returned to Guendulain Farm. All five sites across the stable of vineyards secured by Bill and Patrick will be certified Biodynamic in conversion by June.

The striking labels of William Downie wines, designed by artist Reg Mombassa, has helped obtain listings at The Prince Wine Store and elsewhere. Bill's boss at De Bortoli, Stephen Webber, says, “Downie is the best winemaker in Australia.”

William was the Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine Young Australian Winemaker of The Year for 2006.