Jan 31, 2023
July 10, 2023
July 24, 2023
Rose Kentish, Winemaker, Distiller, Flavourist - Sparkke, Full Circle Spirits, and Rose Kentish Wines, Australia: Perhaps having to move between the physicality of the role into the customer-facing side. The skills needed for making and promoting are so different.
Rose Kentish, Winemaker, Distiller, Flavourist - Sparkke, Full Circle Spirits, and Rose Kentish Wines, Australia
Josh Kessler, Associate Winemaker at Swedish Hill Vineyard, United States: This could be different for everyone depending on who you are, but for me, in my current role it is harvest logistics. Because where I work is a fairly large facility with a good amount of custom crush work, and being in a cool climate wine region, deciding on when to bring things in can be challenging. We want to wait for optimal ripeness and fruit quality but sometimes decisions need to be made, looking ahead two or three weeks which sometimes means picking fruit before or after peak conditions.
With experience, you learn which varieties can hang longer and still produce quality wines and where others need to be picked before they turn in the vineyard. Every vintage brings new challenges which to me is the hardest part of the job because you cannot always go on the previous year's experiences.
Josh Kessler, Associate Winemaker at Swedish Hill Vineyard, United States
Justin Mund, Winemaker at Monserate Winery, United States. There are always challenges. It gets easier with experience. If everything always goes right, then anyone could be a good winemaker. It's when things aren't perfect that the exceptional winemaker can either fix or mitigate the issue.
Justin Mund, Winemaker at Monserate Winery
Greg Clack, Winemaker at Chain of Ponds, Co-owner XO Wine Co, Australia
Brad Frederickson, Winemaker & Creator at Outside The Box Wines, New Zealand: The hardest part… that’s so broad. Dealing with less-than-ideal weather during harvest, equipment failure, wines not turning out as planned… there are many difficulties that could be faced. But I think the hardest part is making something that appeals to a wide range of palates. Every winemaker can make good wine... but that’s subjective. You’ve got to pull up a seat at the table for the imaginary consumer. When blending, you’ve got to always consider what the consumer thinks because at the end of the day – they will be drinking your wine. So, the hardest part is taking off your winemaker hat, putting your critical winemaker palate aside, and thinking – who’s going to be drinking this and how will they see this wine?
Brad Frederickson, Winemaker & Creator at Outside The Box Wines, New Zealand
Preston Thomas, Associate Winemaker at Stone Tower Winery, United States: For me, the hardest part of being a winemaker is staying patient. I enjoy instant gratification, but winemaking necessitates patience. The longer I make wine, the more I am finding the beauty of enjoying the journey from grape to bottle each vintage provides. We only get one shot every year to make the best wine we can and staying patient is one of the keys to accomplishing that.
Preston Thomas, Associate Winemaker at Stone Tower Winery, United States
Olivia Wright, Winemaker at Rodney Strong Vineyards, United States: The flexibility that is demanded of a winemaker's schedule is not for the faint of heart. I have always worked with a multitude of grape varieties with a wide range of ripening windows, so it is a foregone conclusion that for 3 straight months of every year, my life is just eating, sleeping, harvest (mostly the latter). Outside of the harvest season, while there is some more leisure time to spend on friends, family, or hobbies, the day-to-day schedule could be anything from getting up at 5 am to head to the vineyards or flying across the country and staying out until midnight hosting winemaker dinners and sales events. It can be a little exhausting at times, but for those of us who are lucky to really love what we do, it's simply a way of life.
Olivia Wright, Winemaker at Rodney Strong Vineyards, United States
Duncan Shouler, Chief Winemaker at Giesen Group Limited, New Zealand
Peter Selin, Winemaker, owner of Selin Cellars
Brian Crew, Winemaker at Cellar Beast Wine, United States: Adapting. Just when you think you have it all figured out there is always a new obstacle that you have to navigate without harming the quality of your wine, or the quality of your customer service standards.
Andrew Yingst, Winemaker at Grace Winery