Tobin Wines: The pursuit of perfection

Adrian Tobin checking his vines
Adrian Tobin always wanted to be an artist, but life initially took him in a different direction. When he finally retired, he established Tobin Wines and started fulfilling his desire to create. 

Adrian Tobin is an artist at heart. His father did not think that he could make a living in the field, so he became a chemist instead. Later in life he became a pool cleaner, opened a fruit and veg shop in Manly in Brisbane, which developed into a Supermarket and in the early ninties with his twin sons, created UAP (Urban Art Projects). Adrian loved good wine, and in 1999, he finally made the decision to purchase a working property in the rugged and majestic Granite Belt, hopeful to share the wine that he grew. 

After searching the Eastern coastline of Australia and Tasmania, Adrian selected Ballandean as his preferred site. In the late nineties, there were about twenty wineries in the region and the property did produce small quantities of wine at that time under “Ricca Wines”. Other produce grown on site included capsicums, tomatoes, and stone fruit. Nonetheless, Adrian loved the aspect of the property and was keen to establish his new creative outlet. 

He was also quick to observe the Granite Belt’s cool climate and high altitude, the right conditions for a slow ripening period and producing wines with finessed flavours. Adrian believed the Granite Belt would one day rival those well-known regions in Australia.  

Adrian purchased the property, excited about the variety of grapes he would be able to grow and believed that it wouldn’t take long for the Granite Belt to gain a reputation to match the Barossa.  

He had finally found a place where he could nurture his vines, dream big, and realise his ambition as an artist. Adrian has been heard saying, “I’m an artisan and good wine is an art form. This precious little patch of the universe will one day shake the world, I might not be around to see it, but it will happen.” 

Chase perfection, catch elegance

A winemaker at Tobin Wines running their hand through crushed grapes
A winemaker at Tobin Wines crushing grapes

This precious little patch of the universe will one day shake the world, I might not be around to see it, but it will happen.

Adrian is constantly in pursuit of perfection. He doesn’t talk about making wine. He talks about growing wine. He believes that ninety-five per cent of success in winemaking is attained from the effort that takes place in the vineyard.  

As someone who couldn’t express himself earlier in life, he is devoted to expressing the purity of every grape. He refuses to compromise on quality. According to Adrian, “It is an affliction that has taken over my life, constantly seeking perfection is a madness in of itself.” 

Rather than processing imperfect fruit, he cuts it from the vines early and ruthlessly. Up to 50% is dropped onto the ground. That fruit will return to the earth, but more importantly, the reduction in quantity will enhance and concentrate the flavours in fruit that remains on the vine. Quality over quantity always. 

Every vine is handled at least five times before it is harvested. Adrian’s hands-on approach is pedantic but full of life and joy. He is like a sculptor, tenderly pruning, thinning, and plucking at the vines so that the grapes can reach their full potential. 

Every vintage, Tobin Wines produces only 1500 and 2000 cases of wine – and it sells fast. The style may vary for each vintage, depending on the weather and growing conditions, but quality is always a constant.  

Tastings in the Cellar Door will last an hour, unless Mr. Tobin is on site. Three hours is a quick cellar door tasting for Adrian. His passion is magnetic, and he is generous with his time. Always willing to share his knowledge and life experience, his guests get hooked on every chapter in his story.  

Likewise, his face lights up when he sees people reacting to his wine. A smile at the first sip signals that he is one step closer to producing the perfect wine. Maybe it’s impossible to reach perfection, but he likes knowing that the next wine will be better than the last. 

An expression of time and place

Tobin Wines is a varietal vineyard. It doesn’t make many blends; two in twenty years to be precise. Tobin’s grows wine that is a pure expression of the grape and its time and place on the Granite Belt. Adrian’s hunch about the Granite Belt is also proving to be true. There are now approximately forty-five cellar doors in the region, and it is gaining a reputation for premium alternative varieties.  

The property now encompasses twelve hectares and produces beautiful, handcrafted wine from some of the oldest Semillon and Shiraz vines in Queensland. More vines will be planted for alternative varieties in the coming years.  

Adrian’s decision to act on his burning desire to create has also ignited something special in his twin sons, Matthew and Daniel. Together, they founded UAP (Urban Art Projects) which creates and constructs metal artworks for governments and enterprises globally, with foundries in Brisbane, Shanghai, Dubai, and New York. 

Some might say that perfectionism is the thief of joy. But for Adrian, the pursuit has somehow brought him back to himself and he is more than happy to share the fruits of his labour. 

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