Vintage Cellars

Local Loves: Andrew Dix, Innocent Bystander

Inside the Yarra Valley wine institution that prioritises passion over pretension.


The ethos of Innocent Bystander is simple: wine is best paired with people, not pretense. The award-winning Yarra Valley winery produces some of the finest Australian pinots and chardonnays – the kind you’ll want to share with friends on sun-drenched picnics and nights that stretch into dawn – and it’s also a destination in itself with an urban cellar door and top-rated restaurant and bar in Victoria’s Healesville. Brand manager Andrew Dix invites us in for a drop.

What’s the one Innocent Bystander product everyone needs to try?

It’s a hard question, but I’d say our Tempranillo. A silky, medium-bodied red with red fruit, cola jubes and an earthy spice – perfect for your next BBQ.

What sets Innocent Bystander apart as a winemaker?

We’ve historically been the counter-culture kid in the world of wine and haven’t been bound by tradition. We approach each wine with the consumer and occasion in mind, and we’re seeking to satisfy their (and our) curiosity. We continue to play with new and different varieties and styles whether it be through chilled reds (we make a cracking Gamay Pinot Noir), alternative varietals (Tempranillo or the little-known Nero d’Avola), or experimenting in the world of minimal intervention through our Natural Field blend.


We were one of the first wineries to put our wines on tap (which used to be a dirty word) – but the carbon footprint of glass is one of the biggest contributors to our industry’s carbon footprint. We’re not bound to one region – our home and heart lie in the Yarra Valley but our curiosity and exploration take us to regions near and far to create the best expressions of the wines we love to share – that’s why we have our Yarra Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but equally, we go to Heathcote for Tempranillo, to north-east Victoria for Nero d’Avola and to the sun-kissed Swan Hill for our Moscato. We’re always looking at what’s next – how do we keep wine interesting and keep satisfying the curiosity of humans in Australia and beyond.

Describe your ideal Saturday morning in the Yarra Valley?

An early morning coffee at Chachi followed by a walk-up Maroondah Dam through to Badger Weir – it’s absolutely stunning and will set you up for an amazing day.

What’s your favourite local watering hole in the Yarra Valley?

Assuming we’ve already been to Innocent Bystanders tasting bar and Wine Garden, you can’t go past Cavanagh’s Whisky & Alehouse in Healesville for a post-dinner cocktail. They are local operators and do exceptional work in a speakeasy atmosphere.

What’s one thing that surprises people about your winery?

I’d say it’s our industrial, contemporary setting – we’re an urban winery in the heart of the Yarra Valley, so less white tablecloths and rolling hills, more high ceilings, raw wood and concrete to give you a contemporary yet approachable cellar door experience.

How do you give back to the local community?

We do events every year to raise money for the local CFA (Country Fire Authority). This year we’ll have a big red day, focusing on red wines to support that big red truck that’s so important to the Yarra Ranges district. We also do a heap of sponsorship and donations for local schools, sporting events and charities.

What’s the best souvenir to bring back from the Yarra Valley?

I’m biased, but it must be a bottle of Yarra Valley Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. The local gin distillers Four Pillars also have some epic tipples.

What dish do you serve at your restaurant that pairs well with your Pinot Noir?

I’ll give you two, depending on your fancy. Our Mushroom Pizza with a confit garlic base, thyme roasted mushroom, asiago and black truffle oil is pretty famous and perfectly paired with Pinot. Or for a different take, it goes well with our chargrilled octopus with chorizo and romesco. 

Describe your Pinot Gris in four words…

Bone-dry; textural, zippy citrus.

Three Innocent Bystander wines to always have on hand

1. Tempranillo
Yes, you can drink red in summer.

2. Pinot Gris
A crowd-pleasing dry white for the soiree season.

3. Pinot Noir
A classic for a reason (see delicious suggested food pairings above).