What led you into a career in winemaking?
I grew up on a cane farm in North Queensland and I really loved the agriculture side of it all. But what I didn’t like was the way you’d send the cane off to the mill, not knowing where it would end up. So after doing an electrician apprenticeship, I then did a vintage at Cape Mentelle in Margaret River. I loved the fact that you could see the whole process, right from the vineyard to the bottle. I find the whole grape-to-glass mentality fascinating and every year I get excited about the potential. And then you get to see the wines develop and go into bottle – it’s very rewarding.
What do you love about the Nagambie Lakes as a wine region?
Because it’s situated around large bodies of water (Goulburn River and Lake Nagambie) we get this amazing cooling influence in the day and night. The vineyards have the potential for huge variation in varieties – in particular red and white Rhône varieties, as well as aromatic varieties like riesling. It gives winemakers a really broad selection to use as a canvas to make world-class wines.
What wine from the Mitchelton Estate range are you enjoying at the moment?Our 2019 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – it matches perfectly with some of those heartier lamb or beef dishes. It’s so warming sitting by the fire drinking it and it’s also one I select for sharing with family and friends.
Anything exciting in the works for Mitchelton?
We’re very focused on climate change so we’re looking to a range of Portuguese grapes that are a bit more drought-tolerant, with the view to future-proof our vineyards. I have really high hopes for some of the varieties we’re working with: we are trying the white variety arinto; touriga nacional, the red variety traditionally used for Port, which we’re using in our tawny fortified; and sezão, which is going to be a powerful, dry red wine. We’ve got some trial sections at the moment, and 2021 is the first vintage we’ll be making wines from the vineyards, so it’s very exciting to see how it goes.