“It has been a privilege over the years to help create the wine and tourism region we are proud of today.”

With panoramic views of the Macedon Ranges landscape, including the imposing and iconic Hanging Rock, it’s easy to understand why legendary wine maker John Ellis OAM and his wife Ann chose this spot to establish their award-winning winery more than 42 years ago.

They were the new stars in Australia’s wine making arena. Ann is the daughter of wine legend Murray Tyrrell, while John was the first winemaker for South Australia’s Rosemount Estate.

Instead of playing it safe in South Australia, or in Ann’s home town in the Hunter Valley, the couple headed to Victoria to Dr Peter Tisdall’s newly established winery. John helped pioneer many ‘firsts’ in Australia, including cool climate chardonnay and cabernet merlot blend.

The couple were eager to spread their wings and establish their own winery, hence they made the move to the Macedon Ranges. It is here that John first produced cool climate sparkling wine, which was an immediate success (when launched in 1992). Now, more than 40 years on, their Hanging Rock Winery in Newham is revered as one of Australia’s best small batch wineries.

John recognises what he and Ann have accomplished.

“When we bought the property, it was just a bare paddock. Looking back, we can see what we have achieved as a couple and as a family and I’m incredibly proud of that,” he said.

John Ellis OAM. Photography by Jacqui Henshaw
John Ellis OAM. Photo by Jacqui Henshaw

John has spent many years promoting the local wine and tourism industry through government advisory roles, executive boards and philanthropic endeavours and has played a key role in establishing a number of successful festivals locally, including Budburst – the Macedon Ranges wine region’s annual showcase of local small batch winemakers (held in mid-November).

His contributions to the wine industry and the wider tourism industry saw him honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia at last year’s King’s Birthday Honours.

“It has been a privilege over the years to help create the wine and tourism region we are proud of today.”

Then there’s the annual Art in the Vines sculpture exhibition where artists across Australia showcase their mesmerising artwork on the grounds of the winery. Thousands now include the exhibition as part of their yearly getaway to the region, where a stunning landscape plays host to locally crafted wine, art and beautiful local produce.

From a bare paddock to one of Australia’s best boutique wineries renowned for award winning cool climate wines, John credits Ann for being by his side for the entire journey and believes his proudest achievement is his children, Ruth and Rob, taking over the business.

“I often pinch myself knowing my children are continuing the business. It’s the greatest achievement to inspire your children to keep your legacy going. The next generation is sorted. It’s the most important outcome of them all.”

About the author

Narelle Groenhout
Narelle Groenhout

Narelle is a proud tree-changer who only a year or so ago, with her family, swapped suburban Melbourne life and a corporate communications role to fulfil her dream to raise her children in the country and live in a connected and compassionate community. Narelle feels like she has found her community in Daylesford and the surrounding region. Moving from a quarter-acre block on a busy road to an old farmhouse on a two and half acre piece of paradise, bordered on one side by a spring fed creek and the other by majestic eucalypt forest, Narelle has found the life she was looking for, spending her days gardening, entertaining friends and family and writing stories about the remarkable people she has met in her new community, along with trawling the local op-shops, markets, second-hand and tip shops for new treasures.