Behind The Vines: Konpira Maru

Konpira Maru founders and winemakers

It was while Sam was studying viticulture and winemaking at Melbourne's NMIT that he met one Dr Alastair Reed(yes he prefers everyone knows he is a doctor). His newest lecturer in the wildly entertaining Entymology course, a new breed of lecturer for the course with youth, enthusiasm and knowledge on his side. After spending time as a lecturer Alastair moved on to take over the role as head of course and took on the bureaucratic education system in search of a more practical and experienced based degree. An ideology which was eventually shut down and after years of trying, the old guard finally defeated him in his quest for change and he decided to leave his post of mentoring some of Australia's best new wave producers.   

Sam finished the degree years before Alastair left the picture at NMIT and was lucky enough to get him in his prime with some wild field trips, afternoon debriefs in his office over a few beers(yes he had a well stocked beer fridge under his desk), winery BBQ's, house parties, bar crawls, a really strong teacher student relationship was built. To everyone's shock, Sam even managed unbelievably good grades.... 

Upon finishing his degree, Sam moved to London to work in the retail to expand his knowledge and palate. A great exercise, although he did miss being in the vineyards and winery and eventually made the journey back. When Sam finally returned he caught up for a beer with Alastair. Sam started working in retail in Melbourne and Alastair was still in charge of the degree course. Both were shocked at how little wine was available in the style they enjoyed drinking at a reasonable price. It was that simple really, then and there the pair decided to make a wine to fill this gap in the market. Minimal intervention wines, characterful, unique, drinkable and at an accessible price point. 

Initially they used NMIT's winery facility, buying tiny quantities of fruit from Chalmers in Merbein, playing with varieties like Gaganega, Malvasia and Nosiola. Their first vintage they released 600, 500ml hand grenades of fun skin contact whites with pretty much some of the first releases of these varieties in Australia. They had no idea where this would take them but were content at the time as it was great fun, not at all serious and just another excuse to drink booze with like minded people.

Since this time they have been growing organically, almost doubling in production each and every year and now find themselves as full time wine makers and grape growers. A real dream of both of theirs so to achieve it without any outside fundraising, with no family ties to the industry, built purely on passion and love for a product and process, they should be pretty chuffed. 

The pair now farm their own vineyard organically in the Whitlands, Victoria, 6 ha of some of the most beautiful cool climate, high elevation vineyards in Australia. They also lease a winery facility in QLD’s Granite Belt and source fruit from QLD’s two major wine regions the Granite Belt and South Burnett. They work with multiple growers in Victoria, spanning regions including Merbein, Grampians, Kilmore and predominantly the King Valley. Aswell as all that they also have their our own winery facility in Melbourne's western suburbs and are edging closer to world domination by the day.   

Konpira Maru's mentality towards wines has never changed, still striving for the same goals with each wine, the most important being, it has to be delicious.