Winemakers set to sell up

MOVING ON: Robert and Peggy Channon celebrate 18 years of success with Robert Channon Wines as they contemplate selling up and retiring.
MOVING ON: Robert and Peggy Channon celebrate 18 years of success with Robert Channon Wines as they contemplate selling up and retiring. Contributed

BEING sued by global giants Moet and Chandon as you start a boutique winery business might sound like a rough start to the new venture, but for Robert and Peggy Channon it was a stroke of luck.

Mr Channon reflected on his 18 years at the helm of the award-winning Granite Belt winery as he prepared to hand over the reins to whoever comes next.

He said a lawsuit from one of the world's most famous sparkling wine producers was a major windfall, offering publicity money just couldn't buy.

It was one of a number of lucky strikes as they worked to establish the business.

A snub from one of the local nurseries managed to offer their next stroke of luck.

"Getting sued by Moet was a media launch we could never have paid for,” Mr Channon said.

"It was also luck that we planted verdelho grapes, which we hadn't planned on.

"When we were setting out our first vineyard I'd ordered chardonnay from the nursery as the white, but they'd sold our chardonnays to someone more important.

"We thought, 'Well, we've got to plant something' and took the verdelhos.

"We now take all the credit for the research and planning that went into it,” he joked.

The company's verdelho won the award for Queensland's best white in its first three vintages.

The Channons were off to an incredible start, but things just seemed to keep getting better for their golden venture.

Australia's most famed wine critic, James Halliday, described the 2003 vintage as the best verdelho he'd tasted, returning in 2009 to name them "arguably Australia's foremost producer of verdelho”.

Mr Channon said the idea to build the winery came from his desire to work in a more useful and popular career than his former one.

"We've been here now for 18 years, which I suppose is longer than my normal concentration span,” he said.

"I suppose it was really and simply just a love of wine and a desire to do something useful.

"I also wanted more friends.

"I used to be a lawyer, but you make so many more friends when you run a winery.”

Mr Channon said one of the biggest challenges was actually working to improve the name of Granite Belt wines, an endeavour he and other local producers were incredibly successful with.

He said Queensland wines were almost unheard of on the winners' lists at national wine shows only 15 years ago.

"There has been a quantum leap in the quality of grape growing and wine making,” Mr Channon said.

"Now there are some great wines coming out of the district.”

When it comes to the final crunch and a buyer for the $2.45million property is found, Mr and Mrs Channon will still be close by on a sub-divided section.

"We won't have to go far to get a nice bottle of wine,” he quipped.

Until then, he said it would be business as usual at the winery, with the February vintage in need of planting and a concert series to plan.

Topics:  property robert channon wines

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