Paul and Gilli Lipscombe’s story began in 2005 when they resigned from their jobs in London, did a vintage in Languedoc, and then headed to Margaret River to study oenology and viticulture. While combining study and work, their goal was to learn as much as possible about Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They gained experience working in large, small, biodynamic, conventional, minimum and maximum intervention vineyards and wineries including Woodlands, Xanadu, Beaux Freres, Chehalem and Mt. Difficulty. Four years later, after experiences in the Margaret River, France, Oregon and New Zealand, they decided it was time to dive into their own project.
In 2010 Paul and Gilli traveled to Huon Valley, Australia’s Southernmost municipality and coolest wine region. Besides having the two most awarded vineyards in Tasmania (Elsewhere and Home Hill), the industry had barely scratched the surface of the myriad of microclimates within the valley. They stumbled upon a dilapidated 6.5ha vineyard planted in 2005. Opportunity beckoned. It had a northeast-facing slope, which was sheltered from the prevailing cold, and planted with six different clones of Pinot. Perfect, right? Not quite. Half of the vines were dead; blackberries were crowded around and about 100 trees littered the vineyard. However, it was right on the edge of viticultural possibility. They found a diamond-in-the-rough with tons of potential for beautiful expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Their risk paid off – their first release of the 2013 Sailor Seeks Horse Pinot Noir was released, albeit not a commercial volume in the least. In the meantime, and still to this day, the pair manage viticulture at the highly regarded Chatto vineyard in nearby Glaziers Bay.
The pair named their own label, Sailor Seeks Horse, after a hand-written advertisement in a local café in nearby Cygnet, which was requesting use of a horse or other beast of burden to carry a US traveler across the Apple Isle – a ready metaphor, it seems, for the couple’s hard slog to their goal. Now producing both a chardonnay and pinot noir, the wines are elegant expressions, light on new oak and with binding natural acidity. You won’t find any additions here, but for sulfur, and the wines are explicitly built to transfer something of site, of place.