I completed my wine science degree back in 1997 and happily left indoctrinated as a ‘maker’ of wine. I was well schooled in spotting wine faults, judging at shows and looking for the latest technological advantage- be it from foil packet, enzyme, or agent. I embraced the clinical objectivity seeded in my brain and was every bit a winemaker. I have been to the dark side.
Much to my good fortune I began working harvests in Italy in 2002 and was lucky enough to work with wine philosophers Saverio Petrilli (Toscana), Alessandro Dettori (Sardegna), Bruno Di Conciliis (Campania) and Dario Cavallo (Puglia).
I witnessed winemaking that turned everything taught at university and Australian wineries upside down! Acacia barrels instead of oak, large concrete vats instead of steel, whites fermented on skins and all done with a need to express terroir…uniquely.
If it is not your expression then it is someone else’s and what is the point in following? I returned to Australia a very different winemaker and perhaps, my soul had been saved.
Change was small at first. Bit by bit I started cutting back on the ‘making’. I stopped adding commercial yeasts. I stopped using enzymes. I stopped fining. Even the de-stemmer was abandoned. The thing I began to add to the wine was time…more time in older and bigger barrels…more time on gross lees. More time for the wine to grow up and become itself. More time to think about what exactly I was doing and why I was doing it…
The less I did, the more the wine seemed to be true, relaxed and itself.
I began to question everything that I did and thought…should I do this?…why?
Now in Aotearoa, I embrace my unique place in the New World by making wines that are dynamic, exciting and expressive but grounded by the truths of terroir and integrity.
My wines are forward thinking, evolutionary…maybe even revolutionary. They are made organically and without irrigation. They all have something to say.