Despite having grown up in Rome and working in hospitality for a number of years, it wasn’t until Mattia Cianca was working in Perth that he became interested in wine. The added irony was that he was working in an Italian restaurant, learning about Italian wines, in Australia! Since arriving Down Under he has been on a fast track for sommelier stardom, working at Australia’s number one restaurant (Attica), and now with access to one of the most enviable lists in the country (Dinner by Heston). His talent and hard work was recently recognised by Sommeliers Australia, who named him 2017 Sommelier of the Year, and he is on a path to become a Master Sommelier in the next few years.
In a way, Ben Ranken’s wine career has come full circle. He grew up on a vineyard in Tumbarumba, a region in New South Wales famed for the quality of its chardonnay. Recently he and his wife purchased the Wilimee Vineyard in Macedon, another cool-climate region ideal for chardonnay. In the intervening years he gained considerable vintage experience in Australia and the northern hemisphere, and since 2007 has been making wine at Galli Estate, an incredible Sunbury-based producer that also has a vineyard in Heathcote. We chatted about his winemaking journey, his many influences, and also how important the Lorenzo Galli Scholarship is for educating the wine industry on the nuances of Italian grapes that they work extensively with.
For the past fourteen years, Ashley Ratcliff has worked for arguably Australia’s most important family-owned wine business, Hill-Smith Family Vineyards. Over those years he worked in many different elements of the business, from viticulture to marketing, operations to running one of the wineries. More recently he has established a vineyard in the Riverland – considered one of the warm-hot irrigated regions known for large volume grape production – and has been planting more alternative varieties to show the potential for these grapes in the region, particularly for high quality fruit. He has now thrown himself 100% into Ricca Terra Farms, and even has other plans for the future.
Growing up in Southern California presented an incredible opportunity to Sierra Reed Milne when she was scouted for a modelling career at a young age, which in turn gave her the chance to travel and experience other cultures. After gaining a following on the 18th season of Survivor, she dreamed of becoming a television travel program host, but couldn’t have imagined that it would be realised in New Zealand. It was here that she began her wine journey after working closely with the Family of Twelve, a journey that has led to her marrying an Australian, and making her own wine based in Victoria. Check out my Let’s Taste video of one of her wines here!
To win one of these gorgeous Wines and Makers Yarra Valley Maps, simply leave a review on the iTunes page, letting me know which was your favourite episode of the podcast. Make sure to email me to let me know which is your review! The first ten reviews will receive this lovely map (only in Australia please).
Emma Bentley is an English-born, Paris-based International Winery Consultant. During her varied career in the wine industry – mostly based in either France or the UK – she gradually began to find an affinity with natural wine producers, particularly those from Italy. She made the bold decision to offer her services to these wineries in helping them grow their business and educate trade and consumers in the intricacies of their terroir and traditions. She joined me on this episode of The Vincast to share her story.
Jane Faulkner is one of Australia’s most loved and respected wine journalists, with several decades of experience and countless tasting notes under her belt. She is also one of the most travelled wine writers, and is considered one of the foremost experts on Italian wine and alternative varieties in Australia. This is in part due to her role as chair of the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show. She (finally) joined me on this episode of The Vincast to talk about her background, her insights, her thoughts on wine communication, and the direction she hopes alternative varieties head in this country.
Daniel Fischl didn’t find working in laboratories particularly appealing, and whilst completing a PhD in Plant Molecular Genetics at UC Davis (California) he was introduced to viticulture and was seduced with what lay outside. It also helped that the viticulture and winemaking students seemed to have more fun. Fast forward many years of experience consulting as a viticulturist and agricultural scientist, he and his winemaker wife Michelle started the Linnaea Vineyards project with a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. As he got work consulting in vineyards around the world he and Michelle discovered more terroirs and made more wines, across a number of continents and expressions.
Anna Martens began her wine career just outside of her home town of Adelaide, working with one of Australia’s foremost authorities on winemaking, Brian Croser. After spending almost ten years at Petaluma, she wanted to spread her wine-wings. She spent some time in New Zealand studying for the Master of Wine, but soon ended up working at the prestigious Super-Tuscan estate of Ornellaia. This was where she met her eventual husband Eric Nairoo, and through his own business importing into the UK, she was introduced to natural wines. Eventually they decided to find somewhere she could produce her own wine, and they chose the volcanic slopes of Mt. Etna, where she now produces Vino di Anna.
Adrian Santolin grew up in the Griffith region of NSW, with both parents involved in the wine industry. He began working with wine as a teenager, and after a brief period when he contemplated a career in a completely different field, returned to Griffith to work for De Bortoli. After experience in the Hunter Valley he ended up in the Yarra Valley region of Victoria, where he eventually started his own business producing small batch wines under the Santolin Wines brand.
Sardinia is one of the most unusual wine-producing regions in the world, and there are few producers more unique than Tenute Dettori. The Romania area, located in the northern part of the island, is famous for its cannonau-based red wines; robust, rustic and long-lived. Alessandro Dettori took the mantle of running the estate at a very young age when his grandfather passed away and insisted that he take over. Since then he has been on a constant quest to maintain the traditions set out by his grandfather, whilst making the best most-representative wines he can with as little human impact as possible.
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