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Brown Family Wine Group
Joel Tilbrook
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 Varietals
Moscato, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah

Yarra Valley, Marlborough, Central Otago


Innocent Bystander is a privately owned, estate-based wine grower and winemaker in the Yarra Valley, one hour east of Melbourne. First released in 2003, Innocent Bystander is forever expanding its horizons to craft wines reflecting the purest interpretation of each varietal. This means, where necessary, exploring different regions to find the highest quality fruit available for each wine they produce. That is why they choose the Yarra Valley for Pinot Gris; go to the Swan Hill for Moscato; and across the Tasman to Marlborough for Sauvignon Blanc. Innocent Bystander’s close-knit team has a long standing track record delivering a range of wines with a personality all their own: distinctly regional and varietally expressive. Recently, its wineries and vineyards have been certified sustainable by Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. The strikingly branded wines, focused on Innocent Bystander’s main character alone, have established a strong reputation in restaurants and fine wine stores around the world.

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Winemaking is carried out at Innocent Bystander’s modern artisanal winery, a facility designed for hand-crafting small, individual batches of wine with a natural winemaking philosophy, whilst making quality the priority. Using 100% hand-picked fruit, wild ferments and gravity-flow winemaking techniques, the wines are made with minimal filtration and fining. Whole bunches, co-fermentation and hand-plunging aid integration in the Syrah, while the Pinot Noir fruit is treated to a three to five-day cold soak and open vessel fermentation with small amounts of whole bunches to deliver lifted aromatics. These are wines from somewhere rather than anywhere – and they’re determined not to take a back seat.

harvest hand-picking in vineyards with yellow bins in the rows


The Innocent Bystander philosophy is that great wine at its best is like a fingerprint – inextricably linking the personality, mood, and growing season of the land from which it has sprung. Cool climate Shiraz from the Yarra is more savory and white pepper driven compared to the traditional, warm climate styles of Aussie Shiraz. The gently sloping vineyards of the King Valley provide aromatic Viognier while vineyards at the foothills of the Victorian Alps offer crisp, mineral-driven Pinot Gris fruit. 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. 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.


In 2023, all the Innocent Bystander vineyards, and winemaking facilities at Launceston and Milawa, were certified under the Sustainable Winegrowing Australia (SWA) program.