Peter Dredge is a man whose brain moves at a mile a minute. His chatter is convivial, his humor is self-deprecating, and his demeanor is not at all indicative that he knows he’s hot Tasmanian shit. But how does one earn that title, anyway?
For Peter Dredge, it quite literally started with a blow.
When he was 17, Peter was standing on the sidelines of a high school track and field event when a rogue discus hit him in the side of the head. He suffered a serious brain injury and went deaf in his left ear. After a year and a half in rehab, his dream of becoming a professional Australian football player lost its momentum. When he was healthy enough to get back on his feet and work, he took a gap year to do a harvest in the Adelaide Hills at a little place called Petaluma. Scrubbing floors and cleaning tanks were methodical catharsis fueled by the Bristol-born “trip-hop” tunes. This was 1998, after all, and the lovechild of hip hop and electronica was blossoming out of the UK. What serenaded his recovery would continue to emerge in his life for decades to come.
After transferring his physical therapy credits to agricultural sciences, Peter worked his way into a senior winemaking position at Petaluma, specializing in white and sparkling production under the tutelage of Brian Croser. A sabbatical in 2005 sent him to Germany to do a harvest with Dr. Loosen, then to Hungary, Italy and France, primarily studying Riesling and Pinot Noir. Back in South Australia, he decided “in [his] arrogance” after a 2008 heat wave destroyed most of their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir crop, that the Adelaide Hills weren’t cool enough for his cool climate hankering.
So, off he went to Tasmania, working for many years at Bay of Fires (cool climate whites and Pinot) and sister company, House of Arras (sparkling), sourcing fruit from 13 growers all over Tasmania. It was during this stint that he cultivated a deep understanding of Tasmanian terroir, traveling the 200 mile stretch north to south between various subregions of volcanic to alluvial clay soils. Yet, after nearly seven years, the glamor of the job description could no longer hold back the rushing flood of corporate-winemaking-induced head smashing.
In 2015, Peter and his fiancé moved from the north of Tasmania down to Hobart where he would start Dr. Edge, the nickname he earned for himself in 1998 at Petaluma, which is decidedly better than being named after sucking mud out of the bottom of a river. And remember those trip-hop days? Peter spent years hunting down the artist who did the original album cover for the Headz 2 album, a compilation of DJs and artists like The Beastie Boys, DJ Shadow, Nightmares on wax, Massive Attack. He finally found an original painting available at an art gallery in Bristol and, with a swift coup de coeur, paid “a hell of a lot” for it and shipped it down to Tasmania. Peter was able to coax the artist, Robert del Naja, into giving him the rights to use that painting and other original pieces on his labels in exchange for a case of wine here and there. Not a bad trade… The paintings are all abstract pieces that depict heads; one can’t help but see this art as a humble homage to the days of Peter’s tenuous brain functioning.
Peter sources his fruit mainly from Meadowbank, where he also moonlights as their winemaker. His ethos in the cellar is to make wines that are “unashamedly soft-handed,” fresh, light, and textured, accolades that earned him the Young Gun of Wine People’s Choice award in 2017. His days at Petaluma had him convinced that single vineyard wines were the only acceptable way, but sourcing fruit for Hardy’s had him changing his tune. The Dr. Edge portfolio is bolstered by fruit from all over Tasmania, which scratches Peter’s itch of experimenting with blends of clones and vineyard sites. (He once made a Pinot Noir from 29 different clones). With a twinkle in his eye, he remarks that “every vineyard is someone’s dream on a patch of dirt.” Weave those dreams, Dr. Edge. Fly us to the bright side of the moon.