The Rathbone family built Yering Station on the principles of passion, integrity and quality – all of which extend to the foundations of our team. Meet the people behind our story, our wines and our successes.
CEO & Winemaker
In the pursuit of knowledge and learning, Darren was accepted into a Masters Of Science, Enology program at UC Davis in California in 1999. Upon completion in 2002, Darren complemented his technical study by undergoing various winemaking assignments in acclaimed global wine regions including Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and the Napa Valley.
He then returned to Australia to continue to develop and expand the Rathbone Wine Group. Playing an active role in due diligence, negotiation, acquisition and integration, Darren saw the expansion of Rathbone Wine Group to include Mount Langi Ghiran in 2003, Parker Estate in 2004 and Xanadu in 2005, as well as the development of the 14 Degrees distribution centre which opened in 2009. In 2010, Darren was accepted into the Masters of Business Administration program at Melbourne Business School and completed his MBA in 2011.
Today, Darren is the CEO and Winemaker of Yering Station and the Rathbone Wine Group at large, which still proudly remains a family owned and operated business. Darren works alongside his father Doug Rathbone (Chairman) and brother Brad Rathbone (Director of Exports in China). Darren is also an active wine show judge with significant judging experience within the Australian wine show system.
Born in 1973, Darren’s love of wine started at home. Growing up in a family that enjoyed wine and food, wine was always part of the Rathbone’s family meals. Even when Darren was young, having a sip of wine from his Dad’s glass was a special treat.
This personal passion began its ascent in 1995. Upon Darren’s graduation from Chemical Engineering, his father Doug Rathbone and uncle Graeme Rathbone purchased a vineyard site in the Yarra Valley. Darren’s first job was planting vines in this vineyard, which was named in honour of their grandmother, Laura Barnes. It was around this point that Doug noted Darren’s enthusiasm, believing it was “too big to be a hobby, too small to be a business” in its then-current guise.
In the years that followed, the Rathbone Wine Group was formed by the Rathbone family. Darren was instrumental in developing Yering Station into the iconic brand and operation that it is today. He worked hard in establishing the winery, the vineyards, the highly-awarded tourism operation and the passionate long-serving team from the ground up. In 1996 Yering Station formed a joint venture with Champagne Devaux to create Yarrabank. Yering Station’s first vintage in the newly built winery took place in 1997, marking Darren’s first winemaking experience in Australia.
No stranger, Brendan has spent a great deal of time at Yering Station throughout different points of his career – totaling 8 years all up. He first started as bright-eyed Cellar Hand and soon worked his way up to the position of Winemaker. “Those years were full of wonderful memories and experiences. During that time, I had developed a deep understanding of our vineyards and a knowledge of how truly special they are.”
Now at the helm as Senior Winemaker, Brendan leads the long-serving team in upholding our enduring wine vision. “There is a legacy of quality here at Yering Station, specifically at top end of our range, which I intend to always respect and maintain. That being said, my style of winemaking is focused on elegance and purity of fruit, so I’ll be doing my best to not get in the way of the how the vineyards express themselves, and also to find the complementary parcels needed to piece together our blends.”
Brendan Hawker is the Senior Winemaker at Yering Station, leading the winemaking team with passion and integrity at the core.
Brendan describes his beginnings in wine as somewhat unorthodox. Wine was always a point of interest for Brendan, some of his earlier memories growing up including the weatherman announcing Adelaide Hills’ vintage conditions each year. Re-assessing his options during a gap year after high school however is what really propelled Brendan into the world of winemaking. “The decision was entirely based on how interesting and diverse I believed this exciting industry to be. And it was certainly the right choice; I hit the ground running with enthusiasm and have never looked back.” Over a decade later, Brendan is an accomplished, highly respected winemaker in the Yarra Valley and beyond, with incredible knowledge and foresight.
Returning to Australia, James’ plan was to work the 2017 harvest at Yering Station and then reassess his options, but he fell in love with the Yarra Valley and decided to stay.
James quickly assumed the role of Assistant Winemaker at Yering, given his attention to detail, commitment and razor-sharp palate. Working closely with the Winemaking team from the get-go, James has gained an abundance of experience and exposure over the last two years. Recently promoted to Winemaker, James now oversees Yering Station wine quality and daily winery operations.
James’ interest in wine stemmed from his grandfather’s heavy involvement in the Pyrenees wine region in Western Victoria.
After James graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Winemaking degree, his focus was cast onto learning how to make Pinot Noir, leading him to work harvests in Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Oregon, Burgundy and Germany. After travelling for a few years, the lure of a full-time winemaking position steered him to the Coonawarra region where he predominantly made Cabernet Sauvignon.
After a year and a half, James decided to travel overseas again, working in a wine bar in Copenhagen for a year.
Assistant Winemaker & Cellar Manager
the role of managing our cellar and assisting our winemaking processes. In this time, Garry has been instrumental in contributing to the increase of quality and maintaining a collaborative and energetic team spirit.
One of the longest-serving employees at Yering Station, Garry joined our team in 2006. Affectionately referred to as the ‘backbone of our cellar’, Garry’s commitment and dedication has always been unwavering.
Originally employed in the bottling line, Garry progressed by taking on
construction as a Branch Manager. Missing the daily connection to the land, Rod eventually returned to viticulture, managing the vineyards at Mac Forbes.
In 2013, Rod joined the Yering Station team as a Vineyard Manager. In this time, Rod has developed a profound knowledge of Yering Station’s sprawling sites, leading him into the Chief Viticulturist position.
Rod’s vision reflects Yering Station’s overarching ethos; the celebration of true regional authenticity. Rod and his team take care in ensuring an individual approach is taken across each Yering Station block, recognising the distinctive characters that each contributes.
Born and bred in country Victoria, Rod has followed his connection to the land from a young age. Growing up on the Murray River, a local winery inspired his early interest in viticulture. Rod says, “I was always going to be a farmer, it just felt right.”
Moving to the Yarra Valley after high school, Rod worked at Hardy’s Wines while studying viticulture at Melbourne University. Equipped with knowledge, Rod then moved into a vineyard management role in the Murrundindi region before setting up his own viticultural consultancy business with contracts throughout the Yarra Valley.
After the devastating 2009 fires in the area, Rod decided to take a break from viticulture and embarked on a career change in
Recognised for his original vision and artistic flair, Ben’s style is current and approachable. Showcasing the best produce the Yarra Valley has to offer, Ben also strives to cast the spotlight on small, local growers.
Born and raised in the Yarra Valley, Ben Smith has remained loyal to his origins. Enjoying a 15-year career in the region, Ben has spent time at Yering Station as a Commis Chef through to a Sous Chef. He now proudly assumes the position of Head Chef.
Director - Food & Beverage
With the business’ rapid growth, Rachael founded a hospitality management structure from the ground-up and was soon promoted to the position of Hospitality & Tourism manager.
After managing Yering Station’s operations for nine successful years, Rachael was then promoted to Director of Food & Beverage for the Rathbone Wine Group as a whole – a newly created position to manage the growing demands of the group’s hospitality business.
With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Rachael oversees the management of Yering Station’s cellar door, restaurant and events operations.
Commencing her career in luxury hotels and resorts, Rachael’s first hospitality appointment was in Hayman Island while under Ansett ownership. After two years, she returned to her home town of Melbourne, working with the esteemed Grand Hyatt Melbourne and Max’s Restaurant.
Joining the team at Yering Station in 2000, Rachael was recruited to develop a function department at the newly opened Yarra Valley estate.