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Bleasdale’s senior winemaker to hand over the reins after 17 years

Paul Hotker (left) and Matt Lauber. Image courtesy Bleasdale

After 17 vintages at the helm, Paul Hotker will hand the senior winemaker reins to Matt Laube at Bleasdale Vineyards this month.

Laube has worked alongside Hotker as the operations winemaker for the past 15 years. He will step into the senior winemaker role this month, assisted by Sam Rowlands, promoted to winemaker following a succession plan developed close to two years ago.

Bleasdale employed Laube after vintages at Yalumba, Bay of Fires, and Oregon. Like Hotker, he has a horticultural background and a passion for wine, food, flavour, and cooking.

Hotker believes their diverse yet complementary backgrounds have helped them craft Bleasdale wines side by side for many years.

“We know how each other thinks, preferences and approaches to wine. We always look for the positive in each vintage, vineyard, and barrel, what it brings to the blend and how we can improve the result. For 90% of the time, we’re on the same page, and the other 10% involves some robust discussion, but we’re mates, so we get there in the end,” said Hotker.

Hotker cut his teeth in various roles around Australia before and during his studies, and on graduating from the University of Adelaide (Waite) in 2002, he accepted a role at Nautilus Wines in New Zealand as vineyard manager and assistant winemaker. In October 2007, he began making wine for Bleasdale, and it is here that he won the respect of the Australian wine community, including James Halliday.

“There’s an argument to say that the Bleasdale winery, both historically and most certainly at the hand of winemaker Paul Hotker, should be regarded as every Australian wine lover’s best friend,” said Halliday.

“There was no doubt a great foundation and culture to build on, in vineyards and growers, people and history, but the work of Bleasdale’s head winemaker Paul Hotker cannot be understated. He and his team are relentless in their determination to work magic.”

During Hotker’s leadership, the Bleasdale team has collected over 80 trophies and 300 gold medals for Bleasdale and its clients.

“The winemaker’s first job is to preserve the fruit to be enjoyed for years as a preserved capsule of the time and place. Matt knows our vineyards, people, and the winery intimately, and after years of working together, we’ve developed an excellent partnership. With four great vintages in a row, plenty of good wine in the pipeline and a continuous improvement culture that we have built together, now is the time for me to move on and allow Matt to take the lead,” said Hotker.

Robert Edwards, chair of the Bleasdale Board for the past ten years, believes Hotker has displayed an unparalleled commitment to getting the wine right during his tenure at Bleasdale.

“During Paul’s career at Bleasdale, the winery has won many awards and trophies, including the 2018 Halliday Winemaker of the Year, the 2019 Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy, the 2018 Max Schubert Trophy, and the 2024 Halliday Winery of the Year. This is no easy feat, Paul and his team have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of our wines each and every year,” he said.

Hotker will stay on at Bleasdale in a consulting capacity, and Matt Laube is excited about his new appointment.

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