Following 17 vintages at Bleasdale Vineyards, Paul Hotker will step down as Senior Winemaker this month, with Matt Laube taking on the role.

The announcement comes during the 174th year of continuous winemaking by the founding Potts family’s descendants at Bleasdale.

Laube has worked as the Operations Winemaker for the past 15 years and will step into the senior role with strong Bleasdale winemaking knowledge and experience. He will be assisted by Sam Rowlands, who was promoted to Winemaker in accordance with a succession plan developed just under two years ago.

Prior to his work at Bleasdale, Laube worked vintages at Yalumba, Bay of Fires, and Oregon. His horticultural background and passion for wine and food is similar to Hotker’s own, and this similarity has allowed the pair to work together so effectively over the years.

“We know how each other thinks, preferences and approaches to wine. We always look for the positive in each vintage, vineyard, and barrel, what it brings to the blend and how we can improve the result. For 90 per cent of the time, we’re on the same page, and the other 10 per cent involves some robust discussion, but we’re mates, so we get there in the end,” said Hotker.

Hotker’s focus has been on displaying distinct regional and varietal characteristics in his wines, with minimal influence of winemaking. He is confident that this will be continued by Laube when he takes over.

“The winemaker’s first job is to preserve the fruit to be enjoyed for years as a preserved capsule of the time and place. Matt knows our vineyards, people, and the winery intimately, and after years of working together, we’ve developed an excellent partnership. With four great vintages in a row, plenty of good wine in the pipeline and a continuous improvement culture that we have built together, now is the time for me to move on and allow Matt to take the lead,” said Hotker.

Before his appointment at Bleasdale in 2007, Hotker held roles such as Vineyard Manager and Assistant Winemaker at Nautilus Wines in New Zealand. He has developed a strong standing in the industry over his career, collecting 80 trophies and 300 gold medals for Bleasdale and its clients, as well as receiving recognition from James Halliday.

“There’s an argument to say that the Bleasdale winery, both historically and most certainly at the hand of winemaker Paul Hotker, should be regarded as every Australian wine lover’s best friend.

“There was no doubt a great foundation and culture to build on, in vineyards and growers, people and history, but the work of Bleasdale’s head winemaker Paul Hotker cannot be understated. He and his team are relentless in their determination to work magic,” Halliday said.

Robert Edwards, Chair of the Bleasdale Board, congratulated Hotker’s commitment to quality.

“During Paul’s career at Bleasdale, the winery has won many awards and trophies, including the 2018 Halliday Winemaker of the Year, the 2019 Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy, the 2018 Max Schubert Trophy, and the 2024 Halliday Winery of the Year. This is no easy feat, Paul and his team have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of our wines each and every year,” he said.

Hotker will continue to work at Bleasdale in a consulting capacity.

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