DAVID HOHNEN AM
David Hohnen is one of the founding winemakers of the Margaret River region of Western Australia and Marlborough in New Zealand. His lifelong career in winemaking started with studies in Winemaking at Fresno State University in California. While studying he share farmed a 2ha block of Carignane vines owned by FSU. This experience was the genesis of his interest in biological farming. In a nutshell, feed the soil microbes and thus feed the vine.
David returned to Margaret River in 1970 where planting had commenced on a vineyard that would become Cape Mentelle, a wine producer founded by his brother Mark. David produced the first vintage in 1976. In 1983 and again in 1984, David’s wines won for Cape Mentelle successive Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophies. This achievement put Margaret River front and centre as a new fine wine region in Australia. Today Cape Mentelle is respected as the producer of one of Australia’s finest Cabernets. It is exported to 46 countries.
Another wine to become a core component of Cape Mentelle’s portfolio is Zinfandel. David’s time at Fresno introduced him to the rich and robust wines of this variety. He imported vines from Lodi in the Central Valley and the first plantings were made in 1972.
In 1984 Hohnen followed a hunch and travelled to New Zealand to find the source of the Sauvignon Blanc that was catching some attention in Australia. He completed his journey in Marlborough and with Mark’s backing established Cloudy Bay in time for the 1985 vintage of Sauvignon Blanc. Cloudy Bay is now perhaps the best known white wine worldwide.
For his services to the Australian Wine Industry David was made a Member of the Order of Australia. His portrait hangs in the New Zealand Winemakers Hall of Fame and he is a member of the Order of Vignerons of Bordeaux.
Freya grew up at a home in the grounds of the Cape Mentelle estate. It was not too far from the winery and the daily fragrance of evolving wine is still a strong memory. Following a ‘gap’ year out and about in the world, she commenced studies for a degree in Oenology at the University of Adelaide in South Australia. In 2000 she graduated as dux of the course.
From graduation she took a number of jobs which included two vintages in France. The first was at Domaine de Rimauresq and then at Clos Puy Arnaud with Stéphane Derenoncourt. Her Southern Hemisphere vintages were spent with Yalumba, Vasse Felix, Voyager Estate, Brokenwood, Henshcke and De Bortoli (Yarra Valley).
In 2004 Freya was founding winemaker for the McHenry Hohnen Vintners partnership. More recently she has been the representative in Western Australia for Classic Oak Products and Tonnellerie François Frères.
Freya produces wine under the label ‘Once & Well’. The brand is a partnership with Pinnacle Wines.
As a skilled winemaker, Freya’s contribution Crackerjack is at the blending bench. She blends as a winemaker for a generation of younger consumers, half of whom are women.
Rupert has wide experience in marketing and selling wine, in addition to his entrepreneurial skills in developing food orientated, neighbourhood pubs.
His wine career started in Sydney, where he managed the Australian and South East Asian activities of Veuve Clicquot SA (VCP).
It was in this role that he managed the purchase by VCP of Cloudy Bay and Cape Mentelle, iconic wineries in New Zealand and Western Australia. These acquisitions brought him into contact with David Hohnen, with whom he established the friendship that has led to the partnership that is Crackerjack Wines.
From Sydney, Rupert relocated to Europe, based in London, as the European Marketing Manager for LVMH.
In 2000, Rupert and his wife Jo created the Geronimo Inns pup group and subsequently Hippo Inns. Today Roo describes himself as an Angel Investor.