When did you realise you wanted to become a winemaker?
In the early 1990s, my parents had become shareholders of Rockford Wines. After a few weekends working at the cellar door with Jane Ferrari, my passion for wine was sparked into reality. I began winemaking in my back shed with a few mates under the guidance of Lyn Tasker and Peter Gambetta, who are the current winemakers at Orlando Wines. Then in 1996, my parents, uncle and aunt combined with Carl and Peggy Lindner to purchase the old Bernkastel winery in Tanunda. It was renamed Langmeil Winery to honour the original village name, and the rest is history.
Please tell us more about your career so far.
I attended the TAFE at Nuriootpa for what was then a four-year certificate course in Food Processing (Wine). After which, I worked for Orlando Wines from 1992 to the beginning of 1996, when I was poached by Lyn Tasker to work for Tarac Technologies in their new bottling facility. My job here was short–lived due to the beginning of Langmeil Winery, which produced its first vintage in 1997
What do you love most about being a winemaker?
Winemaking ticks all the boxes for me, as you have to use your knowledge and senses to determine quality and style, as well as the hands-on work in the vineyards. It’s a combination of science and technology to produce liquid art!
What is your favourite wine and what do you typically pair with it?
I tend to go with how I feel at the time; if you feel like an aged shiraz and you’re having roast chicken for dinner, just go for it, they’ll still both taste great.
Is there a specific process you follow when developing a new wine?
All wine starts in the vineyard. If I’m working on a new wine style from our staple variety, which is shiraz in my case, I look at crop levels, soil profile, chemical analysis and most importantly flavour and grape maturity to determine the harvest date. The post-harvest classification tasting then gives me new blend–component options to play with. When dealing with completely new varieties I tend to go with my gut at first and then start the refining process from there.
Where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think your winemaking will evolve during this time?
From the beginning, I was restricted to the equipment that came with the old winery and was forced to blend parcels to maximise tank space. Despite that, Langmeil Winery has seen steady growth in the last twenty years, which fortunately will be likely to continue. In 2002, we installed a modern crusher, a nice little tank press for the whites, the first of our open fermenters and basket presses, as well as a few other new tanks. I’m happy to say that we’re currently producing the best wine possible from the winery
Is there any vintage you’re particularly proud of creating? Why?
Due to kind weather, timely rains and slow and steady ripening, 2010 was probably my favourite vintage as it really captures what the season had to offer.
Which of your favourite varieties do you typically indulge in?
I tend to favour full–bodied reds, so shiraz and cabernet sauvignon are my favourites.
How does the climate/soil affect the wine you make?
Climate and soil are two of the most influential factors for all wine qualities and styles. Red clay over limestone will produce a completely different shiraz to that grown in deep sand or heavy, black clay. I believe cabernet sauvignon is better when grown in heavy black and red clays and not so much from sandy, loamy soils – but there are always exceptions depending on many other factors. The general climate determines regional wine styles on a broad scale, and in Barossa we have a warm climate, so the reds tend to be a bit richer and riper than those grown in a cool climate. However, Barossa does incorporate the Eden Valley, which is roughly double the altitude of the Barossa Valley and therefore has cooler-climate varieties like riesling and chardonnay.
From Wineries of South Australia – Issue 04. Edited by Bhria Vellnagel.