When did you realise you wanted to become a winemaker?
When I was picking grapes, I decided anything would be better than that! Creating the 1995 vintage for St Hallett Wines felt so natural, it was intoxicating.
Please tell us more about your career so far.
I’ve created twenty-eight vintages; twenty-six of those in Australia, one in Provence, France and the other in Oregon in the United States. I’ve travelled the planet promoting wine since 2000.
What do you love most about being a winemaker?
I love only having to work six weeks per year! It’s also a tremendously rewarding experience to turn a basic fruit into a delightful wine that people will share and enjoy.
What is your favourite wine and what do you typically pair with it?
Favouritism is a fleeting concept, as long as the wine evokes emotion, memory or celebration, I’m in! If I can drink it with good friends over a good meal, all the better.
Is there a specific process you follow when
developing a new wine?
Not really, I just research through tasting, reading and talking with other winemakers. I mostly respond to the fruit and season, and ask myself if I think it’ll be delicious to drink.
Is there any vintage you’re particularly proud of creating? Why?
Each vintage presents interesting challenges and exciting opportunities. Occasionally, a vintage will come along that basically makes itself! This was true of the 2018 vintage at Hayes Family Wines, it delivered delicious wines that are sublime to drink now, as well as in the years to come.
How does the climate/soil affect the wine you make?
Our climate and soil are instrumental elements in defining our wines. Our soils hold everything from loams, clay, sands, and so on, which all deliver different expressions in each variety. The variations of grape combine with its ripening time and the cool climate to create a magical interplay.
Which of your favourite varieties do you typically indulge in?
I’m looking at grenache from around the world at the moment, and loving the small batches from Priorat in Spain. But who knows, maybe sometime soon I’ll spend my time rediscovering Australia’s fortified styles.
Where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think your winemaking will evolve during this time?
We have just planted a tiny block of grenache blanc and will be planting bourboulenc in the spring of 2019. I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot of effort getting to know whether these varieties are suited to our patch of paradise.
From Wineries of South Australia – Issue 04, edited by Bhria Vellnagel.