Our Team

Who We Are

Established in 1970, Montara is captivating with its panorama of plains, mountains, vines, and old-world charm of the Ararat gold rush days. Situated 200 kilometres west of Melbourne in the Grampians region, it is a feast for the eyes and the spirit.

Simon Fennell, Winemaker

Simon joined the Montara team after almost 20 years in the wine and brewing industries.

Being born and bred in the Penola/Coonawarra region, wine was the inevitable vocation of choice. After completing studies in Horticulture, he cut his teeth in the vineyards and cellars of Coonawarra.

After four years with the Southcorp Wine Company, Simon went on to manage and establish a 100 acre vineyard in Wrattonbully for Glenhurst Wines. Following this position, he studied further in the area of brewing science before spending four years brewing and consulting in the emerging craft beer scene.

The wine bug bit once more in 2009, and Simon returned to Coonawarra to take up a laboratory role with Penley Estate, working for one of Coonawarra’s finest producers.

Simon became a Victorian for the first time in 2012, crossing the border to take on an Assistant Winemaker role at the iconic Best’s Wines, Great Western. He worked alongside the Thomson family and Senior Winemaker Justin Purser in creating multiple trophy and award winning wines from the Grampians region.

In May 2016, Simon was appointed Winemaker at Montara. “I’ve always liked the Montara site,” he said. “With mature vineyards over 40 years of age, a wonderful aspect, and an amazing lineage of winemaking excellence in the Grampians region, I am excited about contributing to the ongoing evolution and development of the Montara Wines brand.”

In his spare time, Simon enjoys playing the piano in local soul/funk band Orange Whip and barracking for the mighty Geelong Cats.

Sarah Pathirana, Cellar Door Manager

Sarah became a part of the Montara family in 2014 and is responsible for running our cellar door, organising events, and managing our wine club. She is extremely passionate about our region and wines, and loves sharing this passion with our customers.

Wine is second nature to Sarah, having grown up around wineries and vineyards through her parents. She has previously worked on the bottling line at Seppelts and has also done her fair share of grape picking and vineyard work in the region.

When not at Montara, Sarah enjoys spending time with her four horses, chilling out with her family and friends, and gardening.

Billie Stapleton, General Manager

Billie lives and breathes Montara Wines. Working with a great team and encouraging the brightest and best in the Montara Crew is what a day’s work is all about.

She believes that Montara is all of life’s pleasures in a bottle, and after many years in the music industry is focused on bringing the most amazing “harmonised” wine experience to her team and customers, not only in the service and the product, but most importantly the relationship.

Justine, Wine Clerk

Following school, Justine gained formal education in marketing and joined international cruise ships for several years to run her department in boutiques, overseeing logistics of duty-free goods. She then returned to Australia, travelling as a tour guide before meeting her partner, Justin.

Justine and Justin relocated to Victoria, Justin’s home state, and established Grampians Helicopters and Grampians Wine Tours. Due to the nature of their businesses in the region, Justine built a great relationship with the Montara family, and joined the team in 2017 to manage stock and work with export. She spends her spare time hanging out with her son & husband.

Lenny Stapleton, Chief Wine Dog