30 years of Coldstream Hills thanks to James Halliday


In December 30 years ago James and Suzanne Halliday gathered with a group of friends to push the limits of viticulture and plant two vineyards straight down very steep, undulating hills in the Yarra Valley, calling them the Amphitheatre and House Block Vineyards. It was only three months earlier that James and Suzanne first admired the magnificent views from the top of the property and considered its potential for producing pinot noir and chardonnay in the style of Burgundy – 30 minutes later they agreed to buy it, and Coldstream Hills was born.

It was in these enchanting surrounds that James set about crafting exceptional wines with a philosophy that remains much the same today – to express the individuality of the vineyards and showcase the pedigree of the Yarra Valley by making wines known for their elegance, finesse and length of flavour.

And that he did. At the very first wine show entered – the 1986 Lilydale Wine Show (now the Yarra Valley Wine Show) – Coldstream Hills won three trophies, and in 1987 and 1988 the winery was awarded the Most Successful Victorian Exhibitor at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show. Thus began a string of successes that have cemented Coldstream Hills’ position as not only one of the Valley’s great wineries, but also one of the great wine producers of Australia.

Although James has since retired from winemaking, he’s still an active part of Coldstream Hills and lives with Suzanne on a house on the hill overlooking the winery.

This year Coldstream Hills celebrates its 30th anniversary, and Andrew Fleming, who for the past 14 years has led the winemaking team at Coldstream Hills, says he has been handed an incredible baton. “Having someone as esteemed at James who started Coldstream Hills – someone who tastes thousands of wines each year and is an unsurpassed authority on wine - you want to make sure that what you are doing not only meets our high expectations, but you always want to see the twinkle in his eye too,” said Andrew. 

“Thirty years later with the added benefit of a wide array of mature vineyards, advanced technology, essentially a new winery and an improved understanding of oak, our wines have never looked better. Our style has not dramatically changed since James held the fort and we plan to keep it that way.

“To celebrate our 30th we held a vertical tasting of some of the finest vintages of Coldstream Hills wines and it was great to see how well the early chardonnay and pinot noir wines are holding together after 20 plus years. The 1988 Rising and Shantell Vineyards Chardonnay and 1992 and 1997 Reserve Pinot Noirs are great examples of what the Yarra Valley can do. As James said, there aren’t many pinot noir or chardonnay producers in Australia who could make wines with such ageability.  

“The wine itself has rewarded all the effort that has been put into it, moreover. I’m so honoured to have a mentor such as James and to be able to continue the legacy that he began 30 years ago. The opportunities for the future are endless,” he said.

Andrew is pleased to announce the release of Coldstream Hills new vintage wines for 2015, which are available at the Cellar Door and in selected retailers nationally:

To view a video that Coldstream Hills created as a tribute to James on its 30th anniversary, visit  www.coldstreamhills.com.au


Key Milestones 

1983                       James and Suzanne Halliday move to Melbourne from Sydney so that James could set up a Melbourne office of the law firm where he was employed.

1985                       James makes wine from contract grown grapes in Victoria, renting winery space; August: James and Suzanne first see the Coldstream Hills property and agree to buy it and Coldstream Hills is established – 3 years before James intended to retire from law. December: The Amphitheatre and House Block vineyards are planted

1987                       Acquisition of adjoining 15-hectare property as the site for the Coldstream Hills winery; construction of winery begins

1988                       Planting of G Block to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon; first commercial vintage is produced

1992                       Winery offices and second barrel cellar constructed

1993                       Acquisition of the Briarston Vineyard.

1994                       Initial planting of the Upper Yarra Valley Vineyard

1995                       First Coldstream Hills sparkling wine made (in small quantities)

1996                       Coldstream Hills acquired by Southcorp Wines and James becomes a Group Winemaker

1999                       Construction of a new temperature controlled barrel cellar capable of handling up to 1500 barrels

2001                       Andrew Fleming and Greg Jarratt  appointed winemakers

2007                       First Amphitheatre Pinot Noir is released (from 2006 vintage)

2009                       Demolition and construction works begin on new winery upgrade incorporating James Halliday Cellar

2010                       James Halliday Cellar officially opened in October. Release of Single Vineyard Chardonnays – Deer Farm Vineyard and Rising Vineyard (from 2009 vintage).

2013                       Acquisition of the Deer Farm and Hazeldene Vineyards; release of first Esplanade Pinot Noir (from 2012 vintage)

2015                       Coldstream Hills Celebrates its 30th anniversary

Have a look at Yarra Ranges Tourism James Halliday Hand Picked Yarra Valley Trail here

In this post

Coldstream Hills

The Coldstream Hills Cellar Door is a must visit for wine enthusiasts eager to taste our extensive selection of Single Vineyard and Reserve wines. Perched on the side of the valley, guests are encouraged to enjoy a glass of wine on our beautiful deck whilst admiring the stunning view of the vines below.