Fortified wine trophy winner 2020: Morris Wines

Wine news

Fri 27 Nov 2020

By Adam Partridge

^ David Morris, chief winemaker at Morris Wines

If there's one person with a big smile on their face in 2020 it's David Morris, chief winemaker at Morris Wines in Australia.

Not content with two trophy wins this year - something winemakers dream of - for both the Cellar Reserve Grand Tawny NV and the Grand Muscat wines, the winery based in Rutherglen, Victoria took home both the Fortified Wine Producer title and that of Outstanding Wine Producer: a truly remarkable achievement. 

Judges loved the Grand Muscat's 'scrumptious sultana, burnt caramel and charming coffee' aromas. While on the palate, it was the Grand Tawny NV's 'divine flavours of caramel and butterscotch' that made for a trophy-winning fortified wine. Commenting on Morris Wines' stand-out success in his video acceptance speech at last week's virtual IWSC Awards Ceremony 2020, David Morris said: 'this is the strongest show in the world and with great entries from around the globe we’re very proud to win it'.

We caught up with David earlier this week - once his adrenaline levels had lowered - to talk about just what it is about Morris Wines' heritage and location in Rutherglen that enables the team to make such award-winning wines.

Tell us about the history and background of Morris of Rutherglen

Morris of Rutherglen is a small Australian winery based in Rutherglen in the North East of Victoria. It's famous for producing some of the world’s finest fortified wines and for making rich full-bodied red table wines. I'm 5th generation winemaker in the Morris family and am proud to carry on the traditional winemaking philosophy that has been the hallmark of Morris of Rutherglen since 1859. Morris of Rutherglen joined a growing portfolio of premium brands in March 2016 when it was acquired by Casella Family Brands, and three years later in 2019, Morris of Rutherglen celebrated its 160th anniversary.


How did you get into wine?

I was born the first child of Charles (‘Mick’) and Roma Morris, and grew up with the ‘playground’ of the winery as a back drop to my local schooling.Following high school I attended Roseworthy College to  study winemaking and graduated in 1978. After graduating, I returned to Rutherglen and worked under the esteemed Colin Glaezter, then at Seppelt of Rutherglen. I visited other winemaking regions to gain more experience. I worked for various wineries including Orlando’s winery in the Barossa Valley and Griffith. In 1993 I returned to Rutherglen and my father Mick retired; handing me the keys to the Morris winery. I hope that my life’s work will continue to be followed on in a similar style, so that Morris of Rutherglen will always be recognisable for its unique winemaking expertise, particularly in fortifieds.


What is your winemaking philosophy?

I believe in an uncomplicated minimal-intervention approach to winemaking; allowing the grapes and the terroir to shine through, holding back on the oak and relying on the full flavoured, generous Rutherglen fruit. When the flavour and structure is already there, you don’t need to do much to the grapes.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given and how did you use that in your winemaking?

My father Mick’s commitment was to; “Always deliver flavour” and that is the one thing I hold true to this day.


Who or what has been your most important influence and why?

My mentor and father, Mick Morris. He taught me the finer details on the art of blending and without him I would not be the winemaker I am today. He still assists me today on the occasional tasting at the winery.


How can people best enjoy your wine?

On its own or with a nice food pairing. I’ve always felt our wine is best enjoyed with friends, family or loved ones.