Those close to the wine industry knew that Ben Glover would have big shoes to fill at Wither Hills. For a long time the understudy of Brent Marris, the signals were sent when Lion Nathan acquired the growing wine brand in 2002, and Brent eventually leaving in 2007 to focus on his new venture. Taking the role of chief winemaker Ben Glover, with a top team around him, has carried on, seemingly effortlessly through the transition to the current day.
Wither Hills has continued to grow, and is indeed a global brand, bigger than ever, the international reach of the ownership opening and expanding markets throughout the world. With this has come the multi-channel distribution, and the inevitable degradation of margins, and more dangerously image. The quality of Wither Hills wines has never been better, nor more consistent, this achievement in the face of the pressures to react in the opposite direction. Part of the focus on quality has the addition of new varietals, Pinot Gris and Riesling (this being essentially cellar door), to the core range of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and the introduction of limited production single vineyard expressions.
There is considerably more to Ben’s role at Wither Hills, and he and his team are intimately involved in the production of the Daniel Le Brun sparkling wine enterprise, acquired by Lion Nathan in 2007, and now works in conjunction with the Indevin team in the production and marketing of the Lindauer portfolio. I thought I’d have trouble catching up with Ben, especially with his expanded responsibilities. Instead I found a man who was very comfortable in his own skin, having stepped into big shoes, and then again into even larger boots. I think having the likes of winemaker Matt Large and Wine Operations Director Geoff Matthews in support is significant.