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Matt Jarvis

MATT JARVIS

OWNER AND WINEMAKER AT JARVIS ESTATE

“I love that … as a small winery we can experiment with different techniques and styles of wine.”

When did you realise you wanted to become a winemaker?
Originally, I just wanted to be a farmer and grow grapes, but after being involved in the winemaking process, I decided it would be cool to make your own wine. Going from planting vines to making wines.

Please tell us about your career so far, including your education, work experience etc.
I am a self-taught winemaker, but I have also learnt from qualified winemakers and by hands-on experience. I guess this has given me an open approach to  winemaking, as I have not been guided by what the book says to do.

What do you love most about being a winemaker?
I love that every year is different and that as a small winery we can experiment with different techniques and styles of wine. What is also very rewarding is seeing the wines that you have created from scratch being enjoyed and commented on by cellar door customers.

What is your favourite wine, and what food do you typically pair it with?
I have a few favourite wines, but lately it has been our barrel fermented semillon, which has to be paired with a seafood chowder. Cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc are my other go-to wines. Though I do wish we could grow some pinot and riesling, maybe I will find the energy to plant them one day. I have a special spot on the farm that will get the afternoon shade and hence deliver a cooler environment, which is needed for these varieties.

Is there a specific process you follow when developing a new wine?
Not really. I do pay attention to what other winemakers are doing, but also like to stay quite traditional and let the fruit be the driver of flavour. This is also why we spend more time in the vineyard than in the winery.

Is there any vintage you’re particularly proud of creating? Why?
For me, 2018 was the perfect year and we created some stunning cabernets. It was just a year where the rain was minimal and timely, a slow ripening period and no bird damage. We put some extra effort into the winemaking using more oak, but not new oak, and longer periods of maturation.

How does the local climate/soil affect the wine you make?
Winemaking I think is only 10–20% of the process. You cannot bake a cake with rotten eggs, so the quality of the fruit is integral and to get good quality fruit you need to start with good soil, good weather and sound vineyard practices. You see a lot of winemakers claiming awards for wine, but really the award should go to the vineyard manager and the weather gods.

Which of your own varieties do you typically indulge in?
I go through phases where I will have my favourite wine, then for some reason switch to another favourite and will indulge in that one for a month or so. But normally sticking to our core wines chardonnay, semillon, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and shiraz.

Where do you see yourself in five years? How do you think your winemaking will evolve during this time?
Still making wine, but each year we evolve, and we are doing a lot more selective harvesting and small batch wines. So, we will be paying more attention to and picking sections of the vineyard that we think will make the best wine. Then keeping this wine separate, using a couple of different techniques and seeing what happens.

Anything else youʼd like to add?
Being a small vineyard and winery and owning it does give us a lot more flexibility than if we were a larger commercial operation. I think you get more reward internally in this environment than if you were to be making the same wines over and over. This reward transfers to passion and passion brings rewards.