John graduated as Dux of the Winemaking Course at Roseworthy College in 1971 and started his winemaking career at Krondorf and Yalumba in the Barossa Valley before becoming the first winemaker at Rosemount Estate in the Hunter Valley where he became known as one of the “Young Turks” of the wine industry. John met his wife, Ann Tyrrell while in the Hunter and they moved to Victoria in late 1978 to establish the Tisdall Winery in Echuca for Peter Tisdall. This soon became a very highly recognised winery internationally, with a cult following. John and Ann then established the winery at Hanging Rock in 1983 and their ambitions were met by soon becoming highly regarded for their multi award winning and highly acclaimed Macedon Sparkling wine, Jim Jim Sauvignon Blanc and Heathcote Shiraz.
While owning and managing a successful winery John managed to give considerable time to the State and Federal wine industry, as well as Victorian Tourism. This culminated in him being Vice President of the Winemakers Federation of Australia. As a mark of his efforts John has been awarded a Distinguished Service Award by the Victorian Wine Industry Association, the French Australian Chamber of Commerce French Flair Award and holds Legend status with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival as well as the Tourism Victoria Award for the “Most Outstanding Contribution by an Individual” in 2007. He was also awarded a Centenary Medal. He has been a senior judge in the Australian Show circuit for over 25 years, including being Chairman of Judges of the Hobart Show for 4 years.
( Chief Winemaker )
The younger of 2 children born to John and Ann Ellis, Rob and his sister Ruth quite literally grew up in the Hanging Rock Winery from infants. They spent their holidays either playing or working in family business and helping it grow into what it is today from an early age. Rob is a 5th generation winemaker through his mother’s side of the family- the Tyrrell’s from the Hunter Valley. You could say that wine runs through his veins.
After graduating at Scotch College in Melbourne, Rob went onto study Oenology (Winemaking) at the famous Waite campus at Adelaide University. He then went on to become a ‘flying winemaker’ for a number of years, doing vintages and working at great houses such as Domaine de Montille in Burgundy, Domain Serine in Oregon, Champagne Jaquesson, and Laurensford near Stellenbosh in South Africa. He was also an integral part of the winemaking team at Hewitson in the Barossa Valley for 4 years.
It was during this time abroad that he developed a real passion for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. He had learnt a number of different techniques including how the Europeans had adjusted to cold climate viticulture and he was keen to put this knowledge to use. To this day Rob considers this time away from the family business to be invaluable.
After a number of years abroad learning, it was decided that it was time for him to return to the family business as the Chief Winemaker in 2011. John his father, who had started the business 30 years earlier, had decided it was time to semi retire to run the family’s other business- Hanging Rock Beef, whilst of course keeping a close eye on his son.
During his time as Chief Winemaker for Hanging Rock Winery Rob has focused on the winery’s and vineyards sustainability, incorporating organic practices into the company’s vineyards and utilising winemaking techniques such as wild yeast and whole bunch fermentation to increase the complexity of the wines and help bring out the true expression of the grapes.
Rob is also an active wine judge on the Australian wine show circuit and helps run both the Macedon Ranges Wine Exhibition and the Heathcote Wine Show.
Rob will continue the family winemaking tradition and will continue to build the foundations of a great Australian Winery.
( Sales & Marketing Manager )
Ruth and Rob grew up at the Hanging Rock Winery. In fact the family moved there from Echuca when Ruth was just 3. Although she grew up wanting to be a winemaker it became apparent shortly after leaving school that communicating with the public was more her strong suit. After travelling the world and living in different parts of Australia, Ruth graduated with a Wine Marketing Degree from Adelaide University in 2004. Shortly afterwards she got the call to come back to the winery. In that time she has made her way up from Export Manager and Brand Ambassador to Sales & Marketing Manager. Like her father, Ruth also enjoys her time judging wine with various shows including Royal Melbourne, International Cool Climate Wine Show and Federation Square.
(Direct to Consumer Manager)
Michelle joined the Hanging Rock team in 2021 with the job of enhancing our customer experience here at the winery and to manage our Wine and Beef Clubs. Michelle comes to us from a very tourism and service oriented background. If you would like to visit us or talk to us about our consumer experience, Michelle's the one to talk to.