Lake Breeze's rich history began in the 1850's when William Hill built the family's initial homestead at Langhorne Creek, which later became known as Fairholme. Langhorne Creek is one of Australia's oldest wine-growing regions, celebrated for its full-bodied red wines. The first vineyards were planted on the Fairholme property in the late 1880's by Arthur Follet (despite being a devout Methodist and non-drinker!), the husband of William Hill's granddaughter Alice Fairweather. The Follet family had always combined a successful dairy farm with grape-growing. Len Follet had founded the “Bremer View Illawarra Stud” in 1932, and became renowned for running one of the best production Illawarra herds in South Australia. But in the 1960's and 70's Ken, the third generation of the Follet family on the Fairholme property, began to place a greater emphasis on the grapes, replacing the old Palomino and Doradillo vines with Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and later Chardonnay. They sold their grapes to other wineries. Then in the mid 1980's a family discussion led them to focus solely on the vineyards; they had delivered some Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to Penfolds for their Bin 707 wine, were complimented on the quality of their fruit, so the suggestion was made that they “have a crack” themselves. The first Lake Breeze wine launched in 1987 was made at Penfolds, where they continued to make their wine for a little while. The stud was dispersed in early 1993 and they built their own winery for the 1998 vintage. The next generation of Follets is now at the helm, with Greg the winemaker, Roger the Export and Sales Manager and Tim the Vineyard Manager. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Chardonnay still make up the bulk of their 90 hectare vineyard today, with smaller amounts of Grenache, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Vermentino, planted on the banks of the Bremer River on alluvial silty loam soils, deposited by the unique annual flooding of the Bremer River. Some of the vines are up to 88 years old. Cool breezes from Lake Alexandrina help to create a cool climate – hence the name Lake Breeze. They take a minimal approach in the cellar, letting the wines speak for themselves through their innovative winemaking and the concentrated fruit their old vines produce. With 55 trophies and over 180 gold medals the Lake Breeze wines are certainly doing the talking!
And the Follets are once again involved with Illawarra cows. Tom Follet, Greg's son and Len's grandson runs a small herd – things have come full circle!