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Taltarni

Robert Heywood

CHIEF WINEMAKER
AT TALTARNI VINEYARDS

“It’s quite satisfying seeing the fruits of the team’s labours going to bottle and knowing what went into it.”

Taltarni

When did you realise you wanted tobecome a winemaker?

Mid-way through uni, tasting wine and travelling around the world sounded like a good career. Little did I know it’s not as glamorous as that, but still a pretty good way to earn a living.

Please tell us about your career so far.

I studied Viticulture and Winemaking at La Trobe University in the early 2000s and went over to the Barossa for experience in the vineyards and started a job as assistant winemaker. I worked in South Australia for the following four years and travelled to their French and US wineries doing vintages as well before moving back to Victoria to take up winemaking at Taltarni in 2009. I’ve been here working with Taltarni and Clover Hill wines ever since.

What do you love most about being a winemaker?

Watching the entire life of a wine evolve from grape to bottle to cellar. It’s quite satisfying seeing the fruits of the team’s labours going to bottle and knowing what went into it, especially if its good.

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

Sparkling is my go-to at the moment. A clean crisp chardonnay dominant bubble with freshly shucked oysters is the trick.

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

It revolves around understanding what your vineyard can deliver and how that can translate to a wine style that you think could complement your stylistic approach. We are always looking at other regions and countries wine styles that we admire, then thinking how we might be able to bring similar traits to our portfolio, whether it be in the same varietals or not, it’s about the drinking experience and how we can improve that.

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

2021 was great in that it delivered quality for all varieties, it was very trying in the vineyard, but we created fantastic sparkling, whites and reds in that year which doesn’t always occur. It’s nice to be happy with all the fruit that comes in over a vintage not just one particular variety.

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

We are cool climate here; it’s about creating wines that are true to the estate and vintage. Wines that are refined and delicate on the palate but can deliver lovely fruit and natural acid and power in instances.

Which of your own varieties do you typically indulge in?

Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

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

Still here at Taltarni plying my trade evolving to climate change and consumer trends as best I can while delivering wines that are consistent of the Pyrenees and our style

From Wineries of Victoria – Issue 14, edited by Bridget Armitage