While he might seem like an overnight success, the truth is Peter Dredge has spent the best part of two decades honing his craft.
Dr Edge is a perfectly formed Tasmanian label, known for its stylish precision, striking artwork and its habit of flying off restaurant lists and retail shelves upon release. Winemaker Peter Dredge’s wines pivot on exceptional Tasmanian pinot and chardonnay. The parcels are sourced from single vineyards to the north, south and east of the isle, a triptych of single clone wines made identically, with a fourth blend that incorporates all three parcels. Launched in 2015 with pinot noir, the Compass-Point Project added chardonnay in 2019, with rieslings and three new Oregon wines soon to come.
Simultaneously and equally demanding, Peter Dredge is in partnership with the Ellis family at Meadowbank, a highly regarded vineyard established in 1976. This 42-hectare farm grows grapes for numerous artisanal labels, retaining some for their own eponymous label Meadowbank, which Dredge now directs.
And thirdly, there’s a ‘miscreant’ underground label known as Brian, made in collaboration with Tamar Valley winemaker Joe Holyman of Holyman and Stoney Rise Vineyards and wine journo and P&V Vintners retailer Mike Bennie.
“Wines from Peter Dredge are refined in their proportions. Flavour is always at the forefront, yet it’s the purity, structure and length of the wines that make them truly outstanding. Toni Paterson MW
While Dredge might seem like an overnight success, this is no accident. Two decades of listening, reinterpreting and applying the key elements of his apprenticeships with Petaluma and Bay of Fires endowed him with considerable learning and experience.
His journey began with a vintage position in the lab at Petaluma. Motivated more by the money than the work, Dredge was to be unwittingly wooed by wine. He swiftly made up ground to become a qualified winemaker, executing the company’s white winemaking, becoming something of a riesling and sparkling specialist.
Petaluma encouraged and arranged cultural exchanges to Mosel and Oregon, where important friendships were struck. Dredge recalls life lessons learnt under the tutelage of Brian Croser, Con Moshos and Anna Martens. Croser taught him the merits of distinguished sites, while Moshos reminded him not to take things, especially wine, too seriously. Of Martens, he says, “If I was her, I would have given up on me. I was a private school prat.”
This may or may not have been the case, but young Dredge was a careful listener, extracting gems of knowledge tucked away for future reference.
Departing Petaluma in 2010, Dredge took a position at Bay of Fires in Tasmania, where he managed as many as 13 growers. This mosaic of fruit instilled an understanding of the range of styles that grew across the Isle – although pinot became his passion.
He found the corporate side quite stressful, and to relax would wander over to Joe Holyman’s place. “Mike [Bennie] and Joe were doing a few things. We started mucking about, looking into alternative winemaking at the time.” It was an opportunity for the trio to get loose and for Dredge, in particular, to take a more unrestricted approach. The project became known as Brian.
By 2015, Dredge was prepared to commit to his dream. Resigning from Bay of Fires, the Ellis family proposed a partnership. In exchange for Dredge overseeing their revived Meadowbank label, they would provide Derwent Valley fruit for his fledgling project. Meanwhile Morilla Estate offered him a place to make his wines and Dr Edge was born.
In 2017, Dredge began a mirror project with his connections in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. “Their approach to organic and biodynamic farming is really advanced, especially their certification and sustainability systems.” There are now two single vineyard expressions and a blend of the two from 2018 on the water, soon to reach Australian shores.
Most recently, Dredge has joined forces with James Broinowski (Small Island Wines) on a new winery build to make Dr Edge and Meadowbank wines in his own facility. With their first crush scheduled for 2021, it feels as though Dredge has now come full circle, from young upstart to the mentor he once relied upon.
FACTS AND FIGURES
REGION | Tasmania
YEARS IN INDUSTRY | 23
ANNUAL CRUSH | Meadowbank 20 tonnes; Dr Edge 15 tonnes; Brian 10 tonnes
STAND-OUT WINES | Meadowbank Chardonnay, Dr Edge Tasmanian Pinot Noir, Brian Rizza Riesling