Innocent Bystander was established in the Yarra Valley in 1997 by Phil Sexton. Phil was one of the founders of Matilda Bay Brewery in Victoria and Little Creatures in Western Australia, both of which were sold off (to Fosters and Lion, respectively). He then established Devil’s Lair in Margaret River, before selling it to the precursor to Treasury Wine Estates, and thereafter created his budget label Innocent Bystander. Whilst Phil’s other venture, Giant Steps, was focused on single-vineyard, higher-priced wines, Innocent Bystander was more about cheap and approachable wines that anyone can enjoy. In 2016, Phil sold the Innocent Bystander label to Brown Brothers, who were eager to get their hands on the incredibly successful Moscato and Prosecco. Innocent Bystander sources its fruit from vineyards scattered all over Victoria, such as King Valley for the Prosecco, Swan Hill for the Moscato, Heathcote for the Tempranillo, and King Valley for the Pinot Gris. Winemaking duties are undertaken by a talented bunch of people from Brown Brothers, under the guidance of Chief Winemaker Joel Tilbrook.
The Innocent Bystander line-up includes a large number of wines in the cheap to medium-priced budget range. There is the ultra-popular NV Moscato, a rose-coloured spritzy wine with aromas of fairy floss, Turkish delight and mandarin peel, which, with its low alcohol of only 5.5% and sweet palette, goes down incredibly well in summer. The NV Prosecco is drier than its pink cousin, but is the perfect wine to be had with cheese, seafood, or ‘those fancy moments’. The Mea Culpa Syrah is sourced from a single vineyard in the Yarra Valley, with enticing aromas and flavours of blackberry, raspberry and white pepper spice.