winemaker & owner
like all traditional cultures; stories being passed down from generation to generation are imperative. the wine culture thrives on this and it is with great pride that Cameron Leith has been part of the winemaking at Passing Clouds since the time he could walk. He has followed in his Father’s footsteps, to uphold the specific style of passing clouds that became available to the public in 1980.
In the early days, between helping out at vintages and being part of the hospitality industry in Melbourne, by running a bar in Lygon Street Carlton during the day and running the kitchen of a youth hostel at night, Cameron always found his way back to Kingower where his Father Graeme Leith and Sue McKinnon had planted vines in 1974.
In 2004, Cameron had become a fulltime employee of Passing Clouds and was ambitious and inquisitive to find out more about winemaking. This is where the great opportunity to do a vintage in France was made possible.
In 2006 he made his way to France to complete a vintage in Burgundy at Domaine Chevrot, where he enhanced his learning and was then able to return to Australia with a clear direction that being a winemaker was something that he wanted to do.
At the young age of 23 he put on the Head Winemaker hat for Passing Clouds and embarked on his first vintage for the winery in that role. As his thirst for knowledge in this area grew and knowing that that there was a lot more to know about wine making, viticulture and terroir; Cameron graduated in 2011 from his Masters of Wine Technology and Viticulture course from Melbourne University.
Since moving the winery from the beloved home of Kingower to its now second and established home of Musk in the Macedon Ranges, Cameron now holds an important torch for all the wineries and vineyards in this area. In 2015 he was President of the Macedon Ranges Vigneron’s Association and brought many new developments and ideas to the role to increase overall wine quality and put the Macedon Ranges onto the tourist maps.
Over a very short winemaking career, Cameron has certainly upheld and gone beyond expectations in his winemaking. Achieving consistently high scores with top wine writers, Passing Clouds is a well sought after brand by many wine lovers, sommeliers and wine critics.
Jeremy Oliver wrote in 2013 ~
‘Passing Clouds has long been an important and consistent maker of truly regional and long-living central Victorian red wines based around shiraz and the cabernet family. They’re typically deep in flavour, firm and powdery in texture and reveal a charming natural balance. While I thought I could not imagine a better set of examples than the 2012 collection, the releases from 2013 crank the quality up again with some awesome regional styles of purity and balance. As ever, there’s barely a concession to modernity, as the style has hardly altered since I was first attracted to them twenty-five years ago. The company has now relocated to a cooler site near Daylesford, but is fortunately retaining its unique Bendigo heritage.’
This was followed by two Gold medals at the Victoria Wine Show for the Bendigo Shiraz 2013 & The Fools On The Hill Pinot Noir 2013.
James Halliday the most reputable wine critic in Australia, has always had a great respect for Passing Clouds wine. In 2015 Halliday, quoted in his Wine Companion ~
‘This is their best annual roll-out of wines period, full stop.’
This sample of wine achievements are a shining example that Cameron is maintaining and improving the integrity and quality of the classic Passing Clouds Bendigo wines and has now extended the repertoire to the cool climate varieties - Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.