Don Lewis grew up on a vineyard near the Murray River in north-western Victoria. For the past 35 years, he has passionately dedicated his professional life to the art of growing grapes and making wine.
As a winemaker, his attention to detail is his hallmark. His skill with Shiraz in particular, is legendary. Over three decades Don has created innumerable award-winning wines and many wines of distinction as chief winemaker for Mitchelton Wines in central Victoria.
In 2004, Don left his full-time position at Mitchelton to concentrate on a number of projects, including trust. He no longer consults to Mitchelton’s chief winemaker, who until recently was Toby Barlow, who along with Lewis’s trust partner Narelle King, earned their stripes as assistant winemakers under Don’s tutelage.
The partnership with Narelle King has also led to another venture, making wine in Porrera, Spain for the Merum Priorati company. It was in Porrera that Don and Narelle came across the town’s stunning sundial, which became the inspiration for trust’s distinctive label.
Back in Australia, Don and his wife Jenny live literally in the Mitchelton vineyards, surrounded by Shiraz, Merlot and Riesling vines. They have their own vineyard, Crystal Hill, on the banks of the Goulburn River from which Don has been producing his own wine, for several years, cheekily called The Don.
A former Sydney accountant, Narelle King began her winemaking career in the late 1990′s after completing her winemaking degree at Charles Sturt University. She landed her first full-time winery job in 2001 at Mitchelton Wines in central Victoria where she met esteemed senior winemaker Don Lewis.
Narelle was appointed trainee winemaker at Mitchelton under Don and assistant winemaker Toby Barlow. Though vastly different in age and experience, the colleagues quickly developed a mutual respect for each other’s winemaking skills as well as a shared passion for the total food and wine experience.
Though they no longer work together at Mitchelton, their trust partnership combines Don and Narelle’s distinctive backgrounds, skills and winemaking views to create a unique blend of experienced craftsmanship, innovative ideas and business savvy.
Narelle says the philosophy behind trust wine is similar to a fine tailor-made suit – dependability and style lovingly created by a craftsman, where the process of creating the product is as important as the product itself.
“The aim with trust is to provide an experience that our customers can cherish every time,” Narelle says.
“An integral part of the enjoyment of a wine is who you are with and where you are when you drink it. This approach takes the focus from the wine and onto the experience that the wine evokes. It’s an approach we have tried to capture in our wine.”
“Our aim is to make the decision-making process for choosing an outstanding wine easier, whilst still delivering a high level of enjoyment.”
Narelle left Mitchelton Wines in early 2004 and now resides with her husband, Duncan, in Central Victoria.