Chief Winemaker/Manager, De Bortoli Yarra Valley
Steve Webber is married to Leanne De Bortoli and in 1989 they moved to the De Bortoli family vineyards in the Yarra Valley. Together Steve and Leanne have built a winery based on their down-to-earth hospitality and a serious commitment to delicious food and wine.
Steve was interested in wine from an early age. He developed an understanding of horticulture and innovation in the wine industry from his late father, Ron. His first employer was Leo Buring/Lindemans in 1978 and was fortunate to be sponsored through his studies for a Bachelor of Applied Science in Oenology at Roseworthy.
Seven years at Lindemans exposed him to some of Australia’s finest winemakers including John Vickery, Philip Laffer and Karl Stockhausen before leaving in 1989.
Steve Webber brought lots of resourcefulness to his role at De Bortoli. ‘We thought we were doing really edgy stuff in the early days of the Yarra Valley,’ says Steve, ‘but I think it was a real learning curve that we are still riding. It takes a long time to understand your vineyards and the effort needed to reflect the site that you cultivate.’
Steve was awarded the 2007 Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller Wine. He is seeking character and detail in wines by picking fruit with natural balance and with considered and judicious use of oak. He admits to being obsessed with Pinot Noir, he says, “Pinot, while time consuming and lots of manual work, when handled gently and not overly macerated is a wine that articulates the characters of the site so well”.
Steve has released several single vineyard Pinot Noirs from the Yarra and Mornington under the label ‘Riorret’. He has also collaborated with Stephen Shelmerdine to produce the PHI brand crafted from the Shelmerdine family vineyard at Lusatia Park in the upper Yarra Valley.
In 2008, Steve was appointed Chairman of Judges at The Royal Melbourne Wine Show. The changes in the shows’ direction reflect his commitment to the future of Australian wine.
Steve and Leanne have two teenage daughters Kate, 20 and Sally, 18