Winemaker Elena Brooks’ introduction to wine came from her native Bulgaria through her mother, who worked for a local winery doing communications and PR. It wasn’t long before Elena was also helping out at the winery, and due to her knowledge of English, she was able to converse with the Australian winemakers who would fly in to make the wines to order. Elena was then employed as an interpreter in the winery, soon enough gaining a broad knowledge of winemaking and its vast terminology, allowing her to make her own chardonnay. Already sure of what she wanted to do after high school, Elena moved to South Australia in order to study at the University of Adelaide, one of the world’s best winemaking schools. Whilst studying and working vintages in Australia, Elena met Zatr Brooks, who was heavily involved in wine sales and marketing for such brands as d’Arenberg and Wirra Wirra. After completing her studies, Elena worked for Geoff Merrill and Maxwell Wines, before starting her own winemaking company at age 23. In 2007, Dandelion Vineyards was born as a partnership between Peggy and Carl Lindner, Fiona and Brad Rey, and Zar and herself.
Elena is fascinated and motivated by the idea of ‘right grape, right place’- that certain varieties are better suited to specific areas, allowing the wines to better show their character and terroir. Dandelion sources grapes from five regions within South Australia: Adelaide Hills, a cool-climate region with a diverse climate; Barossa Valley, the home of powerful shiraz; Eden Valley, where some of the world’s oldest shiraz and riesling vineyards exist; Fleurieu Peninsula, full of undulating hills; and McLaren Vale, the birthplace of wine in South Australia. As expected, the wines from these regions show much variation in character. The flagship wine, Red Queen of the Eden Valley, is sourced from a premium vineyard planted in 1912, and it has