OWNER AND WINEMAKER AT CAPE NATURALISTE VINEYARD
“[I love the] smell of the fruit, the choice of oak, blending of barrels … [to arrive] at a wine that is unfiltered, fault free and complete.”
When did you realise you wanted to become a winemaker?
When I was five years old (1953), I grew up in the Swan Valley and I used to watch the Italian women food trodding the grapes in open concrete vats laughing as they went about their work.
Please tell us about your career so far, including your education, work experience etc.
I am not a trained winemaker, I read textbooks but mostly I learnt through osmosis by surrounding myself with the most knowledgeable people I could find and looking at the unique land I have and applying it to the vineyard.
What do you love most about being a winemaker?
The smell of the fruit, the choice of oak, blending of barrels, selecting the wines out of the myriad of barrels like a giant puzzle. And arriving at a wine that is unfiltered, fault free and complete.
What is your favourite wine, and what food do you typically pair it with?
An Italian Brunello with a medium rare rib-eye on the bone.
Is there a specific process you follow when developing a new wine?
Not really, we let the fruit flavours after twelve months in oak tell us where their best fit is, then bench trails with percentages of the varieties until we settle on what impresses us the most.
Is there any vintage you’re particularly proud of creating? Why?
The 2012 vintage, as the growing season never had a cloud in the sky from bud burst to picking. We just guided the fruit/wine into bottle with minimal intervention.
How does the local climate/soil affect the wine you make?
Dramatically, because we are the most western vineyard in Australia, we have different soil types that do not align themselves with row direction, thus we have to pick part rows/part panels to achieve optimum result for that parcel of fruit. Coupled with wind, ocean temperatures and the local fauna, pressure can complicate the closing period of the growing season.
Which of your own varieties do you typically indulge in?
Most of them depending on my mood/occasion or how much my wife has yelled at me.
Where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think your winemaking will evolve during this time?
Retired – on the beach with a beverage of my choice.