The 2021 vintage was a particularly memorable one for Coonawarra winemakers Mal and Bruce Redman, with the brothers celebrating 40 consecutive years working together in the family business.
The winery was established by Bill Redman in 1908, who later passing the reins to his son Owen in 1954. Bruce and Mal joined their father Owen in September 1981, to coincide with Owen’s last vintage.
Both born and bred in Coonawarra, Mal and Bruce have a special story – one full of mateship, persistence and good humour.
“We are privileged to be in a business with four generations and more than 110 years of history,” said Bruce Redman. “Making wines with a consistent style and quality – regardless of the trends – has allowed us to build a loyal multi-generational clientele. Mal and I are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and equally excited to witness the passion of the next generation of Redmans for the business.”
Mal added: “Working together has been an easy task, as ultimately, we have had the same goals in mind – to produce the best possible wines under the Redman family label. We’ve been able to understand each other’s needs and work side by side in running the family business. Some say that we work almost by osmosis! We’re so familiar with our work routines that we often can go about what we’re doing without needing to say anything further.”
Much has changed at Redman and in the wine industry over the years, but the Redmans’ winemaking philosophy remains true to Bill and Owen’s original vision. In the industry, the sheer number of wine brands has increased from approximately 300 wineries when Redman started to more than 4000 today.
Winemaking is no longer a cottage industry here; it’s a valuable asset – both nationally and internationally. Having a brand that’s been around for more than 65 years means there have needed to be tweaks, but both Mal and Bruce agree that it’s been important to maintain the Redman style and consistently produce red wines true to the original Redman vision. That means wines that are medium-bodied, elegant and reflective of their Coonawarra home.
The brothers introduced the flagship wine, The Redman, in 2008 to celebrate 100 years of the family growing grapes and making wine in the region. They continue to refine this special wine as an homage to the family name.
The Redmans also continue to grow grapes in the same iconic vineyards. They’ve worn out two grape harvesters, three grape crushers and a horizontal basket press. And they’re still using a wine pump from 1928.
“We’ve often been ahead of our time with vineyard practices,” said Mal. “We de-stem and crush grapes in the vineyards at the time of picking, so we deliver only clean grape must into the winery, and leave the MOG [matter other than grapes] in the vineyard. This concept has now become commonplace, but we’ve been doing it for years. It makes for a real point of difference in our wines.”
Clearly, maintaining the vision of their forefathers is important to the Redmans, and now there’s a fourth generation of Redmans, with Mike and Dan Redman buying into the business in 2020.
“We’re really focused on nurturing the relationship we have with our customers and continuing to introduce new members to the Redman story,” said Bruce.
And although shiraz and cabernet will always be the hearts of the Redman brand, climate change may present some opportunities to experiment with other, non-traditional grape varietals. It’s exciting times ahead.