Highland winery thrives under new owners

Mark Bourne has for many years been the face of the Southern Highlands boutique winery Cuttaway Hill.

So when Cuttaway's owner, Irishman Laurence O'Neil, decided to retire, Mr Bourne and his family stepped in.

The transfer of ownership has been seamless and it shows in the high quality of the wines, all of which are made from Southern Highlands fruit.

Bourne and his wife Deborah are thriving in their venture, with their eldest daughter Katherine, a year 11 student, also taking a keen interest in the business.

With more than 36 hectares of vineyards at its disposal, including the recent acquisition of the old Blue Metal winery vineyards, Cuttaway Hill is now the Highlands' biggest regional producer.

"The Blue Metal vineyard is a bit run-down but we're bringing it back to life and we're keen to get our hands on the sangiovese and petit verdot planted there," Mr Bourne said.

"We see great potential for both varieties over the next couple of years."

Mr Bourne is making his wines at the old Ealing Forest winery on the Highlands, which has been taken over on a long-term lease by experienced winemaker Jeff Afton.

This weekend Mr Bourne will be showcasing his Cuttaway Hill wines along with almost 100 NSW wineries at Sydney Cellar Door in Hyde Park.

Next week he'll be back in the Southern Highlands for Dan Murphy's Australian Highlands Wine Show, of which he is one of the founders.

The show, which caters only for wines grown at an altitude of 500 metres or more, will be judged next Thursday followed by a trade tasting the following day. ■

Kerry Skinner is a long-time Illawarra Mercury wine writer.

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