Leigh started making wine in the Yarra Valley at Miller’s Chateau Yarrinya back in 1984, after graduating from South Australia’s Roseworthy College. As a Melbourne boy, going to the Yarra Valley was a great opportunity. After a three year stint, the lure of Tarrawarra Estate beckoned and Leigh spent four fantastic years making the quality Chardonnay & Pinot Noir table wines & sparkling base wines for Domaine Chandon prior to them establishing their own winery in the Yarra Valley.
At the start of the 1990s, Leigh joined Padthaway Estate in South Australia & continued to make Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sparkling wine in the first traditional champagne press in Australia housed in a refurbished woolshed.
The recession of the 1990s left everybody’s pockets empty and it was back to Victoria & Seppelt Great Western. From 1993 and for the next six years, Leigh was in winemaking heaven.
The best Shiraz in the country was being made at Seppelt where a great team were making amazing wines including the prize-winning Chalambar Shiraz and Great Western Shiraz (the pre-runner to St Peters Shiraz).
It was during a visit to Tasmania in late 1993, whilst both Leigh and Kym were working for Seppelt, that Leigh met Kym for the first time. A business relationship and friendship was formed and over subsequent years they travelled across country visiting vineyards at a frenetic pace.
Touring with Kym gave Leigh new insight into grape growing and a viticulture education that was second to none. These new insights offered Leigh a different perspective in winemaking and he felt he was truly learning from the master!
1999 came and Leigh was ready for his next big challenge and headed off to Nagambie to establish an advanced bottling facility for McPherson Wines, but with that challenge conquered, winemaking was once again on the agenda.
At the end of 2002, Taltarni Vineyards in the Pyrenees of Victoria called and for the next four years it was home. Shiraz, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and Sparkling wine; what more could a winemaker want?
Early in 2005 Kym joined Taltarni as Viticulturist, and again Leigh and Kym were working side by side. Kym ensured that only the best fruit was purchased and that the Taltarni vineyards were of the highest possible standard. Innovation, travel and friendship were the hallmarks of their time, frequently travelling between Tasmania and Victoria.
Leigh now focuses on Clarnette & Ludvigsen Shiraz and is made in Ararat at Melbourne Polytechnic. This small, intimate winery is the perfect place to nurture small parcels of special wines, where attention and care are at the forefront. This will be the home of Clarnette & Ludvigsen for some time.