The perfectionist approach extends to the winemaking where in 2002 Phillip Jones, of Bass Phillip fame, assumed the role of winemaker, consultant and teacher to David and Tanya. Phillip's skill, experience and passion have been the perfect complement to their unrelenting, passionate approach, supported by Hillcrest's old vines and immaculate viticultural practices. Over this time, David and Tanya gradually took on more of the winemaking as their knowledge and experience grew. In particular, from the 2005 vintage, the Chardonnay has been made primarily by them, and the highly acclaimed wines from the 2008 vintage were the first product of their solo efforts. Since this time, they have undertaken all of the winemaking on site at the picturesque Hillcrest winery.
At its most fundamental level, the great wine regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux are what most influence Hillcrest's winemaking philosophy.
Hillcrest wines are made for ageing and reflect many of Phillip's principles, in particular to make wines that have good structure, length and texture. High levels of natural acidity are fundamental to this and Hillcrest is careful to pick at optimum levels which balance ripeness and acidity.
The terroir of Hillcrest is one that provides great fragrance, rich fruit, with fine tannins and excellent natural acid for ageing. Vintage variation is accepted, even encouraged, and winemaking techniques are refined ever so slightly to suit each particular vintage. Whilst techniques may vary, some fundamental principles and the style of the wines do not. Only wild yeasts are used and under no circumstances are tannins or acid added to the wines. The wines must always be a natural expression of their terroir and vintage.
Oak is rightly seen as a background element to enhance the wines structure - it should never be overly dominant. Only the best barrels, typically Francois Freres, are used with around one third new each year, and another third one year old.
The wines themselves dictate the timing of new releases - like all things at this near-50 year old vineyard, there is no hurry and David and Tanya know that their patience will ultimately be rewarded.