The making of Ridgemill

Martin Cooper at Ridgemill Estate. Picture: SAMANTHA WANTLING

Martin Cooper grew up in the premier wine region of the Yarra Valley in Victoria, and when he was at university studying civil engineering he did some work for wineries.

“While I was working with the wineries doing bits and pieces and I used to think, ‘One day I would like to have a winery’,” he said.

That ‘one day’ took a long time but it eventually arrived in 2004 when he and his wife Michelle bought Ridgemill, then called Emerald Hill, which had been established some six years previously by a Spanish couple who were among the first in the district to experiment with alternative varieties.

Martin had a project management business called Ridgemill and at the time he was a leading Brisbane project manager contracted to manage the development of the Queensland College of Wine Tourism. He kind of stumbled upon Emerald Hill while he was out and about exploring the district and within a week the trajectory of the Cooper family was changed for good.

He sold his business seven years ago, worked for the new owners for a couple of years then made the break completely.

Now he and Michelle have goats (the lawn mowers) that are loved by visitors (both adults and children alike), a dog named Angel who isn’t really suited to her name, and Max and Ninja the mouse-catching cats.

Add to that waking up each morning to a view that looks out over the vineyards, and what’s not to love?