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.
Why did you decide to become a winemaker?
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.
What attracted you to the McLaren Vale wine region in particular?
I was brought back to McLaren vale by the late Greg Trott and worked at Wirra Wirra vineyards. The region not only offers outstanding viticultural conditions but is a mecca for foodies, everyone I know is passionate about everything to do with food and drink.
Can you describe your winemaking style, and how it differs to your peers in the region?
My wine style… I take a lot from those I have worked with. I have three rules taught to me my mentors:
1. Produce wines that represent the fruit we grow and the piece of dirt it grows in (really that’s the only thing we have done different).
2. Make sure the wine you bottle brings a smile to your consumers face.
3. When they pay for the wine… the smile needs to still be there.
Which of your wines are you most proud of and why?
All of the above actually, although I forgot one rule: Never bottle a wine you are not proud of.
Simply put, if it doesn’t scratch up, it doesn’t go to bottle.
What most surprises people about Zonte's Footstep or the wines you produce?
I think most of the time, is the purity of the fruit. We don’t make overly complex wines, but ones that draw you in and make you go ‘wow, that’s bloody good’.
What are you drinking now, and what are you cellaring?
Currently, quite a few Pinot Noirs (I just bought a Pinot vineyard) and also heaps of Riesling… I love Australian Riesling, the perfect all-rounder!
It’s the end of a long day. You’re sitting down to your favourite meal and a great wine to go with it – what would that be?
Heck, that’s hard… I would have to say a well- priced Chablis or St Veran, if not that, then a Riesling!
What is the most exciting thing coming up for both you and the business over the next 12 months?
There is always something exciting, we just bottled our first Prosecco, and this year we are going to dabble with a bit of Nero d’ Avola. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love wines from the Mediterranean countries too.