Bellarmine Wines was founded by Dr Willi Schumacher and his wife Gudrun. Willi is a keen wine collector and connoisseur and in the early 1990s he decided to plant a vineyard somewhere in the world where extraordinary wines could be produced. The Schumachers searched the world and chose the Bellarmine property in Pemberton. Willi had studied geology and so when the soil testing came back, he knew he had found the right place with the right terroir.
In 2000-2002, just over 44,000 vines were planted across 20 hectares of the magnificent 220 hectare property which has the Lefroy River running through it. Varieties planted include the renowned Pemberton varieties of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as a pioneering crop of Riesling. Each year, we make 3 Rieslings, each with varying levels of sweetness and alcohol. These are called Riesling Dry, Riesling Half-Dry and Riesling Select.
We also grow Shiraz which makes a fabulous rich yet elegant cool climate style - very Rhone-ish in character. This wine sells out very quickly each year, the 2009 scored 95pts by Halliday, 2008 scored 96 pts. We also make a Petit Verdot. This wine is also very rich and has firm tannins making it a wine ideal for aging yet it also has femininity and suppleness making it appealing in the shorter term.
The Schumachers searched the world, planted the vineyard and have reaped the rewards of their careful choice as since the first vintage in 2004, the wines produced have been of consistently high quality and they have received many high points and awards over the past few years across all the wines. Bellarmine is now red 5 star rated by James Halliday.
The Bellarmine name comes from wine jugs used in the 16th century to carry wine which was safer to drink than water in those times. The jugs had an etching of a bearded man thought to be Cardinal Bellarmino. He was the cardinal who separated the churches so that King Henry 8th could get a divorce. Thus the jugs became known as Bellarmine jugs.
Each wine label has an etching from the jugs and Willi has collected antiques since he was 12 years old so he has a large collection of these Bellarmine jugs as well as many other wine antiques including glasses and bottles.