1. Home
  2.  | 
  3. Meet The Winemakers
  4.  | Issue 12 Meet The Winemaker – Marc Scalzo
De Bortoli Rutherglen Estate

Marc Scalzo


“I believe the winemaker’s role is to not push a wine, but to allow the grapes to direct, and then [infuse] subtle winemaking techniques to add complexity.”

De Bortoli Rutherglen Estate Logo

When did you realise you wanted tobecome a winemaker?

The first time I was fascinated by wine was from the age of about ten; sitting around the family table after dinner eating roasted chestnuts and being allowed to try some red wine – my first perfect food and wine match! I am fortunate to have Italian parents and my father managed a bottle shop in Wangaratta. He often let me try the new samples from the local producers from Morris’, Brown Brothers and Baileys.

Please tell us about your career so far.

I began my working career in the corporate sector but quickly realised that the corporate world wasn’t for me. It was at this point I decided to study winemaking and first did so by correspondence at Charles Sturt University. I started working for De Bortoli Wines when they purchased Rutherglen Estates at the end of 2018. In total I have worked at the Rutherglen Estate for thirteen years, having previously spent time working busy vintages in both Australia and New Zealand. A career highlight for me was when I was named one of Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Winemaker of the Year finalists in 2016.

What do you love most about being a winemaker?

One of the best things about being a winemaker is that no two days are the same. Although the processes involved in making wine are the same each year, no two seasons are ever the same – it never gets boring! Depending upon the time of year my day can involve many different things. During vintage I am responsible, in conjunction with the viticulturist, for deciding when each of the individual varieties should be ideally picked. This involves daily trips to the vineyards, tasting and testing each variety for the sugar levels until the optimum flavour and sugar

level is reached, [as well as] organising the winery to process each grape variety in order to retain all of the varietal characteristics.

What is your favourite wine, and what food do you typically pair it with?

My all-time favourite wine is Giaconda Estate Chardonnay. When I helped out there, I always enjoyed watching their chardonnays – starting off so tight and minerally, and then evolving into such complex amazing wines. I love wines that are allowed to show their provenance.

Is there a specific process you follow when developing a new wine?

You could describe my winemaking style as one of extreme patience. I believe the winemaker’s role is to not push a wine, but to allow the grapes to direct, and then [infuse] subtle winemaking techniques to add complexity from there. Great wines are always made in the vineyard first.

Is there any vintage you’re particularly proud of creating? Why?

All vintages have something different about them. They all cause you sleepless nights, but that challenge is what drives me to continue to improve the winemaking. I am particularly fond of the 2012 whites, although we hardly picked any reds [that vintage] due to a week of torrential rain after the whites were picked.

How does the local climate/soil affect the wine you make?

Within our Rutherglen vineyards we are lucky enough to have a variety of soils and vineyard aspects to ensure we are able to plant grape varietals where they are best suited. Our weather is generally described as being Continental; meaning our growing months are characterised by warm summer days with cool evenings, and a long, mild and stable autumn.

Which of your own varieties do you typically indulge in?

I am a seasonal drinker. I love crisp whites such as arneis, pinot grigio and fiano in the warmer months and Rutherglen Durif, and shiraz in the cooler months. I have a real soft spot for the amazing flavours of Rutherglen Muscat and love to indulge, particularly in the winter months. I mix it up in Spring and Autumn and tend to enjoy the lighter style reds such as tempranillo and rosé.

Where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think your winemaking will evolve during this time?

The phrase ‘continual improvement’ comes to mind. I would hope to be continuing to produce wines of a high calibre, I also hope we are continuing to experiment with different, alternative varietals and using innovative, modern winemaking techniques to do so.

From Wineries of Victoria – Issue 12, edited by Bethany Hayes.