Damian’s journey into the world of wine began working as a sommelier at landmark Sydney restaurants like the original Tetsuya’s in Rozelle and Pier at Rose Bay. Deciding that his future lay in the intriguing world of wine, he studied winemaking at Charles Sturt University and moved to the Yarra Valley where he spent a number of years as assistant winemaker at Tarra Warra Estate.
Like other winemakers before him, an obsession with Pinot Noir took over Damian’s life and, with an understanding wife and two young sons in tow, he took off to Oregon in the USA to do nothing but make pinot for three years at Benton-Lane Winery. While he loved Oregon and the immersion in Pinot Noir winemaking that it provided, Damian still felt the call of his other wine mistress – Chardonnay. When the opportunity arose to move to Margaret River and take up the position of winemaker at internationally renowned Leeuwin Estate, it was too good to resist. Five years at Leeuwin Estate was an incredible experience, and took his winemaking to a whole new level.
Damian’s long-held dream to start his own wine label has seen the journey come full circle, with his return to the Yarra Valley (now with three energetic boys) and the creation of Journey Wines. Damian sources the fruit for Journey Wines from a number of exceptional vineyard sites in the Yarra Valley and Heathcote, and makes the wines at the Medhurst winery in the Yarra.
“The 2011 Journey Wines Chardonnay was a winner and the follow-up is every bit as good. It’s more expressive aromatically and certainly able to be enjoyed right now – although it has the acid structure, intensity, balance and length to handle five years in a cool cellar. Sourced from two sites; Gruyere and Yellingbo in the upper Yarra Valley. Fermented with wild yeast in 25% new French oak puncheons and older French barriques. No malolactic allowed, regular battonage..
Smells inviting. Nectarine, light honeysuckle notes, sourdough, smoked almonds, hazelnuts and lemon. It’s taut and possesses terrific focus and shape in the mouth. The palate adds adult bitterness in the form of grapefruit and pith. Ample flavour. Plenty of woodspice too. Tangy and refreshing on the finish. Tempted to go a point higher here but will be conservative. Definitely recommended buying though.”
2013 Pinot Noir
“Damian North has access to some very good Yarra Valley fruit and has made a splendidly accessible pinot noir in 2013, with dark berry notes, length and depth and the fruit shining through despite the use of 25% new French barriques. A former sommelier who has worked in Oregon, as well as at TarraWarra Estate and Leeuwin Estate, his wines are blossoming with each vintage and this pinot from a warm, dry vintage is positively hedonistic with a beautiful balance between the bright fruit, spice and earthiness. Like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing on your tongue – a thing of beauty. The empty bottle gave away how much I enjoyed this.”
“Damian North’s journey is a bit like that of the Andalusian shepherd – Santiago – in Paulo Choelho’s allegorical novel, The Alchemist. A series of recurring dreams convince Santiago to go in search of his wealth. He travels to many lands and learns many lessons only to discover that his treasure was in his back yard all along. The rub, of course, is that Santiago could not have known that, had he stayed at home. Replace treasure with wine and this is pretty much what Damian North did. Damian first made wine in the Yarra Valley before following his passions to other countries. After years away, Damian returned to the Yarra Valley to make wines under his own label.
This is an elegant medium-bodied wine, offering a complex yet charming nose with lovely spices, a hint of pepper and dar and brooding berry fruits. The palate is fine and balanced and just like the Alchemist, this wine has a very memorable ending.”