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With an environmental science background John Stokes planted his Wood Park vineyard amongst regenerating natural bush land in the foothills of the Victorian Alps in 1989. At that time, wines in the King Valley were being made by the first wave of winemakers predominantly, Brown Brothers. Through the 1980s, a second wave of winemakers was emerging.
John Stokes discovered wine making from literally stomping on a small vat of his cabernet/shiraz grapes. It really was a surprise, to win best overall wine in the local wine show. He won again for the next two years, and it became clear that a strong passion was unfolding. John went on to produce his hallmark Cabernet Shiraz Blend. But he needed a white. Local winemaker from Giaconda, Rick Kinzbrunner made the first four vintages of chardonnay, in the Burgundian style that John has continued.
Since then, Wood Park has earned its place in the forefront of that second wave of wineries from the King Valley with a strong following of supporters.
The vineyard is managed with a commitment to minimal chemical use. Wine making is a mix of traditional and modern techniques including plenty of hand plunging in open fermenters and use of wild yeasts.
In what has become quite an expansive repertoire, Wood Park Wines draws on fruit sourced from the diverse micro-climates within the King Valley and surrounds, ranging in altitude from 250m to 800m above sea level. Cabernet, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Petit Verdot, Viognier and Roussane are grown in gravelly clay on the warmer home block at Wood Park. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris varietals are from the cool Whitlands plateau in the south end of King Valley and Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc come from the high ridges of Myrrhee with Chardonnay from Meadow Creek.
Wood Park’s cellar door opened at the Milawa Cheese Factory in 2002. It’s been highly successful and part of the regions tourist attraction providing the perfect compliment to the fabulous bakery and wonderful Milawa cheeses along with a restaurant, art gallery and natural furniture making.