When did you realise you wanted tobecome a winemaker?
Whilst studying Agricultural Science at the University of Melbourne, a work experience job with the inspirational Bill Dhillon led to my career in winemaking, and my role now as winemaker at Witchmount Estate.
Please tell us about your career so far.
I have studied for a degree in Agricultural Science at the University of Melbourne in the late 1990s, and went on to study for a degree in Wine Science at Charles Sturt University whilst working in the wine industry in the Macedon Ranges, Geelong and Bendigo. I have also travelled overseas for vintages in Italy and France with my young family in tow before becoming the winemaker at Witchmount Estate in 2018.
What do you love most about being a winemaker?
I love the merging of both art and science in winemaking, the challenge of planning for the unpredictability of the seasons and vintage pressures. I love the community of winemakers that we have here making their own wines, and I love that wine can bring us all together. A typical day for me would including pruning in the winter, tasting grapes in the vineyard during vintage to determine picking times, as well as fruit
processing, ferment management and racking wines to barrel. I would also be coordinating the other contract winemakers, bottling wines and having long vintage lunches with mystery winemakers!
What is your favourite wine, and what food do you typically pair it with?
I love viognier and I would drink it with an amazing cheese and charcuterie platter.
Is there a specific process you follow when developing a new wine?
We try to create wines that are consistently well made from vintage to vintage. The styles are approachable, and I endeavour to always preserve the aromas that you are going to see first when you taste the wines. On the palate I always try to find concentration of both flavour and texture.
Is there any vintage you’re particularly proud of creating? Why?
I would say both 2018 and 2019 were great vintages for us!
How does the local climate/soil affect the wine you make?
The Sunbury area is particularly suited to shiraz. The climate is a cool climate but warm enough to ripen [these grapes] slowly, developing elegance and finesse.
Which of your own varieties do you typically indulge in?
From Witchmount, my favourite wine at the moment is the 2018 Estate Shiraz. I would drink this with a long, slow cooked Ossobuco.
Where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think your winemaking will evolve during this time?
I would like to see Witchmount Estate become an oasis in this area where visitors can come to enjoy the beautiful property with family and friends, whilst enjoying casual meals and a glass of wine in a relaxed atmosphere. I hope that we can become a sustainable business that can give back to the land that supports us. I also hope that we can continue to be a community of supportive winemakers making inspiring and delicious wines.
From Wineries of Victoria – Issue 12, edited by Bethany Hayes.