Symphony Hill Wines was founded by Bob and Jill Macpherson and their son Ewen and daughter-in-law Elissa. In 1973, Bob and Jill emigrated from Victoria to acreage on the Sunshine Coast when they purchased a small pineapple farm. The Sunshine Coast was a sleepy sea-side district back then with dirt roads, kangaroos, red-bellied black snakes, ticks and leeches galore. Their property bordered onto a sugar cane farm which produced the most magnificent red hot fires whenever the sugar cane was burnt and left the most interesting black soot marks on any washing left out on the line.
Their property was lush, green and a mini paradise near the ocean. It is there that Bob fine tuned his skills in irrigation and horticulture while tending first pineapples and later avocado and lychee trees. It was this idyllic setting for Ewen to grow up that led to his craving to get back to acreage and establish Symphony Hill Wines after a decade in Brisbane.
Bob recollects, “Jill and I have very fond memories of the early days in the life of Symphony Hill, from clearing of the land (mostly rocks and rock icebergs) to the planting of crops to improve soil quality. The planting of vines, and installation of dams and irrigation systems was a major operation.”
“Ewen’s dog (an Aussie Silky Terrier named Zaphod Beeblebrox) injured from a car altercation in Brisbane had a severe limp, however after keeping me company walking kilometres every day while installing the irrigation system, would go home and collapse. In a short time he became 100% fit and full of character.”
When the two Macpherson families settled onto the vineyard, Jill was a constant provider of gourmet feasts to four generations of Macphersons at one stage when Jill’s mother lived there for a short while. The meals were typical of every romantic vineyard movie except without wine from that vineyard! But they fed the fires of expectation until the grand day our first vintage was uncorked in 2002.
Bob recalls, “Our very first vintage, the 2002 Cabernet won Gold at the local show – so we thought that this is rather easy! After bush fires, frost (-14 degrees), hail and just about everything else, we realised it was not quite that easy.”
“In 2002 we decided to build our own winery instead of sending our precious fruit to another winery to be fermented. This started with graph paper, a pencil, ruler and most importantly, an eraser. It was quite exciting using state of the art humidity and temperature control, along with the latest in winemaking and bottling equipment imported from Italy. I have so many fond memories of Mike and I enjoying morning coffees together solving all the world’s problems. It is so satisfying to see Mike develop into one of Australia’s foremost winemakers – he is definitely a one off.”
Although Bob and Jill retain their partnership in Symphony Hill, they have retired to the Sunshine Coast, where they run a highly successful Truck Stop on the Bruce Highway at Forest Glen. The have owned this since 1986.