Rob began his wine interest in New Zealand during a working holiday in 1974 working for Penfolds in Auckland. When he returned to Australia during the vintage of 1975 he worked in the Penfolds Cellar as a crusher operator and assistant in the red wine fermenters. This commenced a long and fruitful career over 22 years under Penfolds tutillage. In 1979 Rob was offered a Penfolds Wines Traineeship to study winemaking and viticulture at Roseworthy College by the management at the time which included the legendary Max Schubert. Rob completed his winemaking studies between 1979 and 1981.
In 1981 and 1982, The Chief Winemaker formulated a viticulture project aimed at selecting the very best quality Shiraz grapes for Grange Hermitage production. This ground breaking work developing new assessments and discovering new information about the production of the very best Shiraz led to the establishment of a dedicated Viticulture department. The new systems connected the vineyard block characteristics at veraison and again prior to harvest with the resultant wine characters and wine value. He led this department as group viticulturist until he left to start Gibson Wines and his international consultancy in 1997. This background forms a basis of the unique Gibson Winegrowing Approach.
This 22 years established Rob as a well-bred winemaker…seeing the great Penfolds wines evolve and tasting winestyles around the world as he travelled from Germany to France to Italy to South Africa and California.
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