There aren’t many people who call Steve Lubiana Stefano, and you merely need to spend a few minutes with him to understand why. He is one of the most affable and soft-spoken Australian vignerons you’ll find, very much a product of having grown up in the Riverland, the product of Italian migrants. In spite of his very generous and gregarious nature, he is a philosophical wine grower with a deep passion for not only biodynamic farming but the history of these practices. His imprint on the island state of Tasmania is immeasurable, and has been producing outstanding wines from the Derwent Valley for several decades.
When Jean-Jacques Morel made the decision to move his family from Paris to Burgundy, it in fact wasn’t for wine, his entry into the wine industry was merely to earn a living once he moved to the region. It was his previous influences and experience that not doubt led to him finding a true passion for viticulture, and the decision was made to follow a path of wine farming. His incredible journey in life has not only influenced his approach to his wines, but also his approach to life, as his enthusiasm and affability his hard to deny. The fact that he limits interference with his wines is but a small part in his mystique and acclaim, and spending a short amount of time it’s hard not to find his love of life infectious.
Without knowing it Rory Lane was about ten years ahead of the modern era of the Garage Winemaker in Australia with The Story Wines. In 2004, with only a few vintages experience mostly working in wineries in the United States, he took a punt on starting his own wine project, working out of a rented warehouse in suburban Melbourne. Fortunately he was able to purchase some outstanding Grampians fruit, and capture it in a bottle in an elegant expression that almost immediately began to turn heads. He is now considered to be one of the most exciting winemakers in Australia, and is an important representative for small ‘virtual’ wineries both here and overseas.
When Marie Doyard says that “Champagne is running through her blood”, she’s not kidding. Not only was she born in Reims and raised in the region, but her great-grandfather Maurice Doyard was one of the founders of the Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Champagne (C.I.V.C.) during World War II. Her parents brought the Jacquart and Doyard estates together – all based in the Côte des Blancs – and when she took over in 2004 she had some dynamic ideas of how to take Champagne Andre Jacquart into the new millennium. On a recent visit to Melbourne I was able to find out more about her journey and about grower-champagne.
Alice Feiring is without question one of the most passionate and controversial voices in wine today, having spent many years delving into her own love of authentic and natural wine. Through countless articles, blog and newsletter pieces, and several books, Alice has carved a path to not only find but also bring to light some of the rarest gems in the wine world. Whilst her opinions are far from universally welcomed, her integrity is hard to question. She joined me via Skype on this episode to talk about her path and her newest book, The Dirty Guide to Wine.
I was super thrilled to recently sit down for my wine podcast The Vincast with Matt Holmes, winemaker for Bannockburn Vineyards.When I mentioned that I hadn’t tasted any wine from Bannockburn that he’d made, he very generously brought along a few bottles for me to taste. Here are my impressions!
Matt Holmes’ winemaking career has come full circle. His first short experience as a chief winemaker was at Bannockburn Vineyards, stepping into a role that was vacated just before vintage, but in effect was a caretaker position until the new winemaker was appointed. Following that he gained experience all over the world, before recently returning to Bannockburn to become the permanent chief winemaker. We spoke on this episode about his amazing journey, and what excited him about the new opportunities that Bannockburn and Melbourne offer.
Having worked in the Yarra Valley and spent plenty of time driving around it, I’m amazed at how geographically large and diverse it is. Mac Forbes has been one of the most important wine producers that has attempted to show how different each part of the region can be. He does this through the medium of grape variety, having released a number of sub-regional wines every vintage since 2004. I was thrilled to sit down with him and hear more about his journey and what led him to take such a serious risk in choosing this approach.
Growing up in Ballarat, John Harris graduated from Charles Sturt University with a degree in oenology in 1999, and soon took up a position at Domaine Chandon. Over the next seven years he gained much experience and by the end of his tenure was in charge of sparkling production for the Yarra Valley-based operation. In 2008, along with his wife’s extended family, he began the Mitchell Harris brand that would eventually be based in their mutual home town of Ballarat.
To suggest that Elaine Chukan Brown has led an incredibly diverse life is a massive understatement. In fact she’s lived several of them. Growing up in Alaska taught her an appreciation for the artisanal and the value of hard work, but it is her love of travel and discovery that eventually led to her becoming one of the most sought after voices in the global wine scene. She is probably most famous for pioneering the illustrated tasting note, something that some wineries have asked her to recreate on their wine labels!
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