The best of the bunch: our top 'Meet the Winemaker's' so far

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Our 'Meet the Winemaker' series continues to gather huge support from our readers... here are the most successful blogs so far!

Meet the winemaker: Brad Rey, Zonte’s Footstep

Brad Rey, Canadian at large and director of Zonte’s Footstep in the McLaren Vale, proudly talks to The Wine Pig about his views on wine.

I worked in one of the first private wine shops in Calgary and got a chance to try a bottle of Chateau Nuef du Pape from King Goerge the V wine cellar (it was in a cellar of a magistrate that passed away and there were three bottles so they needed it praised). 

Anyhow, well and truly past its apogee, but after we spat it out… there was a glimmer of distinct, dried Grenache… and I thought, “how amazing that something so old could still amaze someone”. 

And that was it, I wanted to enrich people with a wine experience.

Read more from Brad here.

Meet the winemaker: Andy & Trine Gay, Burnbrae Wines

Tony and Jill Bryant took over the oldest winery in Mudgee back in 2004 before passing the legacy down to their daughter Trine, and son-in-law Andy.The Wine Pig has been lucky enough to speak to Trine to find out more about the duo’s passion for the wine world.

The duo talk of the philosophy, passed down by Trine’s parents, to always maintain the integrity of each wine while nurturing every vintage to bring out its finest characteristics, and wow, have they smashed it.

That every wine on our tasting bench is delicious, cheeky… maybe, but we do get comments like this rather frequently.

Read more from Trine and Andy here.

Meet the winemaker: Adam Jacobs, Doc Adams Wines

Viticulturist Adam Jacobs, alongside his business partner, orthopedic surgeon and vineyard owner Darren Waters, started the McLaren Vale vineyard back in 2005, with the sole goal in mind to produce the best wines possible.

The talented team of Doc Adams Wines, led by Adam, is dedicated to showcasing the best of McLaren Vale grape growing and winemaking, with a wonderful result.

I build my best wines from grapes at one end of McLaren Vale to the other. There is a difference of three weeks in harvesting and ripening and this shows in the wines from the colour to alcohol and to richness.

Read more from Adam here.

Meet the winemaker: Jim Chatto, Mount Pleasant Wines

Joining from just down the road at Pepper Tree Wines, Jim Chatto brings a number of awards and exceptional passion for the purity of Hunter Valley wines to Mount Pleasant Wines.

Here, the very excited Wine Pig is lucky enough to find out what drives one of the region’s most loved winemakers.

I started out in hospitality. The hours and thus lifestyle weren’t for me. However, it was through hospitality, I grew to love wine and the vitality of the folk involved. I was strong at science, yet fancied myself as an artist – winemaking kind of ticks both boxes.

Read more from Jim here.

Meet the Winemaker: Alex Finnie, James Estate

Alex moved to the Upper Hunter Valley in mid-2015 to join the James Estate family, just four short years after his wine career began, and quickly rocketed, at a Port Macquarie winery.

Here, The Wine Pig has been lucky enough to speak to Alex to find out more about his passion for the wine world, and what we can look forward to from James Estate in coming months.

One of the best things about making wine is that every single day presents you with a new challenge and as far as regions go there are few as challenging as the Hunter Valley. I have always been a fan of Hunter Valley wines and how unique the varietals can be from any other region. The Upper Hunter Valley is also a beautiful place filled some very genuine people and is a great place to raise a family.   

Read more from Alex here.

Meet the winemaker: Andrew and Hilary Mitchell, Mitchell Wines

The Mitchell family moved to South Australia’s Clare Valley when the property was a dairy, an orchard and a small patch of vineyard. After being born and growing up on the family vineyard, Andrew left to study wine science in the late 70s, a move which has driven the vineyard’s winemaking philosophies today.

Around 40 or so years later the family operating has welcomed the third generation of Mitchell’s to grow up on the vineyard and it’s this family-orientated ideology which really comes through in in balanced and elegant wine.

And now it is time to hand down some of the responsibility and his 42 years’ of experience to Hilary, who although helping out since she could walk, is now working on her second vintage as Andrew’s apprentice.

This dad and daughter duo share their love and memories of their time in the Clare Valley wine region.

In Clare we can make wines with incredibly intense flavour but still with real elegance. Wines which drink well when young but can age beautifully in the long run. We like to make wines that have a soft, gentle touch. Not “show” wines which grab your attention but complex wines that seduce.

Read more from Andrew and Hilary here.

Meet the GM: Graham Ward, Pokolbin Estate Vineyard

Pokolbin Estate Vineyard in the Hunter Valley prides itself by producing elegant yet powerfully structured wines which are created to improve further over time.

Since 1999, Pokolbin Estate Vineyard has been presented with over 100 Hunter Valley Boutique Wine, NSW Wine and National Wine awards for its Semillion, Riesling, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo and Fortified vintages.

General Manager, Graham Ward, talks to The Wine Pig about the vineyard’s success.

We are the only vineyard in The Hunter Valley to grow & produce the traditional Riesling variety. We serve young, aged, late harvest, autumn harvest and fortified Riesling. Being the only vineyard in the hunter to grow this certainly doesn’t diminish the quality, with our 2011 Riesling winning the Best Riesling in Australia through Winestate.

Read more from Graham here.

Meet the owners: Shane & Jane Goninon, Mountainside Wines

It’s Shane and Jane’s personal touch and attention to detail which has enabled the family-run vineyard – Mountainside Wines – to produce a range of such quality and consistency.

All the wines are made using grapes grown directly on the property, most of which have been picked by hand, and that love and care really shines through in the wine itself.

The Wine Pig was delighted to get the opportunity to speak to the duo to find out what drove them to throw in the towel in their previous lives as city business people, and instead take the plunge into the wine world. 

Most people are surprised about us making such a major change in our lives, leaving corporate life in Melbourne and taking up farming.  Most people are also surprised and pleased to find a family owned and operated vineyard and winery making boutique wine. 

Read more from Shane and Jane here.

Meet the winemaker: Jacob Stein, Robert Stein Winery & Vineyard

Not only does Robert Stein Winery & Vineyard’s chief winemaker Jacob Stein have a wealth of knowledge, passion and the good fortune of being born into the wine industry, he also has a collection of enviable awards under his belt to match – most recently he won the 2012 Gourmet Traveller Young Winemaker of the Year award!

After graduating from University, Jacob spent 5 years away from Mudgee, visiting and working in many wineries including Italy, Canada, Western Australia, Victoria and Germany (where his love for Riesling really took off).

But before long he was enticed back to our beloved Mudgee where he, and the wine, only continues to blossom further. 

Here, The Wine Pig was extremely grateful for the opportunity to speak to the man behind some of Australia’s best wine.

I'm starting up cellaring classic Aussie wines again, after a few year hiatus. Grossett Riesling, Moss Wood Cabernet, Bannockurn and Giacondas - it's expensive now, but I'll be happy in 15 years.

Read more from Jacob here.

Meet the winemaker: Tim Stevens, Huntington Estate

Huntington Estate’s chief winemaker Tim Stevens was rural journalist for The Land, The Australian and ABC Radio, before he took the plunge and switched course to winemaking.

“I got into wine and found I was good at tasting it,” Tim told The Wine Pig. Could there be a better excuse?!

But it’s not just Tim’s love for drinking wine that driven him to where he is today (else all us wine-lovers would be knocking on the doors of the winemaking industry thinking we’ve got what it takes).

Read more from Tim here.

Meet the winemaker: Candice Helbig, CRFT Wines

Married winemakers and co-owners Candice Helbig and Frewin Ries founded CRFT Wines in 2012, turning a lifelong dream into a reality.

Their winemaking philosophy is simple: preserve what the vineyard grew and create balance and harmony, leaving a minimal winemaking footprint.

We’ve been drinking quite a lot of the Kalleske wines from the Barossa Valley. These are stunning wines, so incredibly well made and perfect for aging. Where possible we try to get our hands on single site wines of the varieties we produce for drinking and cellaring. Wines that are well made and reflect terroir/site are what we want to drink.

 Read more from Candice and Frewin here.

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