Angus Vinden of Vinden Wines has courage and belief in abundance. As Nassim Taleb expounds within the pages of his book, Skin in the Game: ‘Courage is the only virtue you cannot fake; How much you truly believe in something can be manifested only through what you are willing to risk for it’.
Having recently purchased (for an undisclosed amount) the revered Somerset Vineyard in Pokolbin, Angus Vinden now has skin in the game.
“I first met Angus in 2014. He asked if he could work for me for 12 months to get a feel for vineyard work… Well, I was a bit short handed at the time, so I said, ‘Yeah, no problem. You can come and work for me, but, it’ll be hard work… real hands on work’,” 5th generation grape grower and former owner of the Somerset Vineyard, Glen Howard explained to me, back when I interviewed him in August 2019.
It was Howard who ignited Vinden’s love of the Somerset Vineyard, and passion for the Hunter Valley wine region.
“Our relationship’s pretty good,” continued Howard. “We work well together, hand in hand… I believe he’s learned a lot from me, and I know I’m learning a lot from him.”
Sadly, Glen Howard passed away some eight months later, on April 1, 2020.
“One of my fondest memories of Glen was taking him through the wines I’d made from his fruit at Somerset. We both agreed it was one of our favourite vintages” recalls Vinden.
According to Vinden, it was Howard’s wish that he should purchase Somerset and take custodianship of this special family vineyard.
The Somerset Vineyard was first planted in the 1890s, but was pulled out during World War II in order to prioritise food production. It was replanted to vines in 1965. Some 50 acres of the 90-acre site is comprised of familiar names, like semillon, chardonnay and shiraz. Some regard the verdelho to be of Grand Cru calibre, while only a few know that Somerset grows some outstanding examples of the famous Spanish grape, tempranillo. This is evidenced by the tactful energy, power and presence of the limited release Vinden Headcase 2018 Single Barrel Grand Reserve Tempranillo.
“I was practically raised on a vineyard, crushing my first fruit with my dad when I was seven. It wasn’t until I worked with Glen at Somerset that I knew I wanted to be a grape grower, like him. He instilled in me a devotion to the land, and to this region, which is why this place is so special to me.”
So special that Angus married his wife Hannah at Somerset in December, last year.
“Somerset is the perfect place for me to both look at the past, to see what this region is capable of, and look to the future, to continue to showcase what we do best… producing exceptional wines unique to this special place.”
There’s no fake virtue here. Only a firm belief in the future, through courage and hard work; the way it ought to be.