Yarra Valley
Central Otago
An experienced vigneron counting more than 20 years in the Australian wine industry, Phil Sexton relocated from the warm, coastal region of Margaret River to the gravelly slopes of Victoria's Yarra Valley, an hour east of Melbourne, in the late 1990s to pursue cool climate viticulture. Beyond the pristine Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir he was able to produce in Yarra Valley, Phil discovered a number of vineyards in far flung corners of Victoria and New Zealand that inspired him to explore regional diversity.

"Innocent Bystander wines can lift my mood in the blink of an eye."
Matthew Jukes, 100 Best Australian Wines (2014)
  • Founded: 2003
  • Owner: Brown Brothers
  • Climate: Varied with marked diurnal temperature variation: cold at elevation in the Alpine Valleys, cool in the King and Yarra Valleys, relatively cool maritime in Marlborough, and semi-continental in Central Otago.
  • Key Varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Syrah


Winemaking is carried out in the Sextons’ artisanal winery, a facility designed for hand-crafting small, individual batches of wine. Taking advantage of the broad palate of flavors available to them, the Innocent Bystander team uses a combination of winemaking skill and intuition to blend a consistent range of wines offering unique personality and definitive regional expression.


Co-fermented in open vats, hand plunged and basket pressed to old French oak barrels then racked once after malolactic fermentation and back to barrel for the rest of the year. Racked and settled.

Pinot Gris

Hand picked at flavor ripe perfection, chilled and whole bunch pressed. Racked with some juice solids, inoculated in separate parcels with neutral and aromatic yeasts and a long cool stainless steel ferment with a small percentage in seasoned French barriques. Lees were then stirred in tank and barrel aged for 2 months.


Whole bunch pressed to tank then transferred to barrel after 8 hours settling. Barrel fermented at 20-25°C with various cultured and indigenous yeasts. Lees stirred weekly, then monthly after May. 10% of the wine was put through complete malolactic fermentation. Parcels were blended just prior to bottling in early Feb. No fining.

Pinot Noir

Fruit was hand picked to 300kg crates and chilled before being de-stemmed, but not crushed, to small open fermenters. A 3 day cold soak was followed by an 8 day ferment with hand plunging. After ferment skins were tipped into an airbag press. Wine was then racked off gross lees to oak for malolactic fermentation.

Pristine Pinot Noir, is grown on the steep, gravelly hillsides of the Yarra Valley and complements that of equally pure yet plummy, juicy Pinot Noir with perfumed aromatics that typify the Central Otago style.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sourcing fruit from the lower Wairau Valley right up to the hills of the Awaterre Valley in Marlborough is a rewarding combination that gives luscious ripe flavors but also the savory acidity of the cooler sites.



Central Victoria is much cooler than the traditional planting grounds for Aussie Shiraz. Here the fruit ripens slowly. It’s a bit of a struggle to be honest. But when it does ripen, one will get white pepper, violets and blueberries with a chewy but not tannic finish.

Grapes are sourced from the following regions within Victoria and New Zealand:
Syrah – Yarra Valley
Pinot Gris – Yarra & King Valleys
Chardonnay – Yarra Valley
Pinot Noir – Yarra Valley & Central Otago (NZ)
Sauvignon Blanc – Marlborough (NZ)