We are a little family wine company making wines from our favourite regions McLaren vale and Adelaide Hills. Our home is the iconic Rayner Vineyard in McLaren Vale. We want to make wines that are lighter, brighter, more savoury, structured and intriguing. Different. In August 2016 we were honoured to be named James Halliday's Best New Winery in his 2017 Australian Wine Companion.
Andre Bondar. Winemaker. Grapevine hacker. The Boss.
Andre began life in the wine industry in 2001 and after vintages around the world and Australia spent most of his winemaking career at Nepenthe in the Adelaide Hills. After a couple of years at Mitolo to 'learn as much as I could about McLaren Vale vineyards', Andre and his wife Selina decided to embark on their own adventure; masters of their own destiny. Andre's major influences come from his time working with Adelaide Hills fruit as senior winemaker at Nepenthe wines, and his time in the Northern Rhone, France at Domaine Allain Graillot.
"For me, wine is about food, friends and family and should reflect place and enhance experience. I like my wines to be delicious, but also to be interesting; that little bit different to stand apart from the norm."
Selina Kelly. Marketing. Taste-tester. The (real) Chief.
Selina began her working life as a lawyer but soon realised that the long, boring hours behind a desk were far from what suited her. Selina has a passion for luxury: fashion, diamonds, champagne. And it was this love of the finer things in life that directed her career change towards marketing and the world of wine. Selina started at Hentley Farm in the Barossa and previously worked as Marketing Manager for Yangarra and the new Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard label.
Bondar wines began its life in March 2012, when Andre, Selina and a small group of their family and friends hand-picked a couple of tonnes of Shiraz grapes for their first ever wine. It was a beautiful, calm, warm summer's evening, and when the sun went down the McLaren Vale sky lit up with one of the most spectacularly beautiful sunsets any of us had ever seen. The Violet Hour Shiraz is named in its honour.
There is certainly no shortage of boutique wines in Australia, so the decision to start a new winery may seem somewhat irrational. For Andre and Selina, it stemmed from a desire to create.
"I see it this way. Musicians, bands, It's not as though they look for "a gap in the market" that they can fill. Or think that it has all been done before, or there are enough bands and musicians out there already and so they therefore shouldn't bother. Winemakers are the same. Like artists, the driving force is the desire to create. To put our own stamp on something that we love. To create something beautiful, something that we will enjoy, and hopefully something that others will enjoy and value as well." Selina says.
Then came the desire to have their own patch of land, to tend to their own fruit so they could influence the wine from beginning to end. In May 2013, this dream was realised with their purchase of the historical Rayner Vineyard in McLaren Vale.
The story behind the name is a simple one, it's Andre and Selina's surname. And while it has been said that naming your wine brand with your surname is a marketing cop-out, for Andre and Selina it actually is a testament to the integrity behind the wines they make. "To use your surname means that your wines must stack up" says Andre. "I would never want to put my name on a bottle that I didn't believe in 100%".
And funnily enough, the name Bondar actually has a strong connection with the winemaking game, being the Polish and Ukranian name for Cooper, or barrel-maker. The logo references this with its barrel shaped curve. The pine tree is taken from the flag of the town in Poland where Andre's grandfather lived before fleeing to Australia as a WWII refugee. Andre and Selina do not have any family history in winemaking or vineyards, but they have sought it out as their own passion. Like the pine, they may not be natives but they have now found their home in McLaren Vale.
Our adventures on instagram... (follow @bondarwines)