Virginia Willcock, Chief winemaker at Vasse Felix
With 27 vintages in Margaret River and many in Albania, Italy and New Zealand under her belt, it’s no wonder Virginia Willcock is one of the most awarded female winemakers in Australia. Now the Chief Winemaker behind some of Australia’s most critically acclaimed wines at Margaret River’s founding wine estate, she has driven the revolutionary development in winemaking style at Vasse Felix. Virginia has served as inspiration for many other producers around Australia – in particular her work with wild-yeast fermentation in Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Virginia’s winemaking philosophy is “Make the wines you love to drink. As winemakers, we scour the world to find those rare and precious wines we will most love. So, at Vasse Felix, with our pristine environment and historic vineyards, we must strive to make just that. To perfect a distinctive style that is unique and special, that people all over the world will recognise.”
Duncan Lloyd, Senior Winemaker at Coriole
50 years after Hugh and Molly Lloyd released the very first Coriole drop- Nowadays Duncan Lloyd and his family continue to produce stellar McLaren Vale wines using the same vines. From experiencing vintage in Chateauneuf-du-pape to becoming the Senior Winemaker at Coriole, Duncan has a reputation for both the traditional and the innovative as he works with great vines that are more than half a decade old.
“Red wines are mainly open fermented in stainless steel or old wax-lined concrete tanks. Ferments are hand plunged. A portion of new oak is used for many of our estate reds but many wines such as Sangiovese and Redstone Shiraz are specifically matured in older oak to gain maturity with minimum contribution of oak flavour and extract in the wine.”
Darryl Catlin, Winemaker at Sidewood
When he was a kid, Darryl Catlin earned his first pocket money pruning vines in the Barossa Valley, where his family made wine as a sideline. So it’s not too surprising that he’s now a winemaker in his own right, with a string of awards to his name, including Best Red Wine in Australia, which he won with Sidewood in 2014. Apart from a couple of years studying pharmacy, Darryl has always worked with wine. After completing his Bachelor of Wine Science in 2004, he started as a cellar hand at Shaw & Smith in the Adelaide Hills, where he grew to be Chief Winemaker.
Now, as winemaker and winery manager at Sidewood, he says the best part about his job is overseeing his wines from the grape to the glass, closely followed by being able to take his dog Harvey to work with him. “And then there’s that proud moment when you get something into the bottle and then see others appreciate it. That is a fantastic thing as well,” he adds.
The Taylor family of Taylor’s Wines
The Taylor clan in South Australia is a family that's passionate about creating excellent wine. Inspired by beautifully-crafted European wines, Bill Taylor Snr and his sons moved from Sydney to the Clare Valley in 1969 to prove that Australia had the climatic peccadilloes to create prime cabernet sauvignon. The rest is history.
Over 40 years, three generations and many awards later, including being ranked World’s No. 1 Winery by the World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists in 2017, the Taylors family philosophy remains the same – “We rest on the principle that the finest wines are those made with the greatest dedication and care. Above all, our imperative is to 'respect the fruit'.”
Bill and Vicki Widin of Leogate Estate Wines
Gone are the days of raising Angus cattle for Bill and Vicki Widin. Life is now all about preserving history for the enjoyment of others as they work the land that was first planted in the late 1960s by “one of the founding fathers of the modern Australian wine industry”, Len Evans AO OBE. Since moving from their North-Western NSW farm and purchasing Brokenback Vineyard in 2008, they’ve created the award-winning Leogate: a sustainable estate at the foot of the Brokenback Range in Australia’s oldest wine-producing region, the Hunter Valley.
The accolades won’t stop coming for the Widins and Senior Winemaker, Mark Woods, which include James Halliday’s 2020 Australian Wine Companion awarding Leogate Estate Wines a red 5-star rating for the ninth consecutive year.
Corrina Wright of Olivers Taranga
Meet the Oliver family – six generations of competitive growers and one high-achieving winemaker.
Perched on the 100 hectare ‘Taranga’ property in the middle of McLaren Vale, their small-batch, handcrafted wines continue the family’s 180-year relationship with the land. And then there’s Corinna.
Winemaker and director Corrina Wright has wine – and 171 years of family grape growing – flowing through her veins. On top of creating exquisite vino, she's active in the development of innovative styles from alternative varieties, such as Fiano, Vermentino, Sagrantino and Mencia, and is committed to increasing diversity in the wine industry. These efforts have had her been described as a “legend in the making” by WBM Magazine and as being part of a “remarkable dynasty” by James Halliday.
Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg
Since 1912, the Osborn family have made distinctive wines in McLaren Vale. Taking over the reins as Chief Winemaker in 1984, Chester Osborn has continued this approach while adding traditional touches, and to great aplomb. When he started, Chester reduced yields in the vineyards by eliminating fertilization and minimizing irrigation, and reinstated the foot treading and basket pressing to crush grapes. He uses cultured yeasts for most of the fermentations, but also believes in organics and biodynamics.
1984 was an auspicious year for the Osborns for many reasons. It saw the 25th anniversary of the famous d’Arenberg red stripe label and Chester’s first vintage, which included the first d’Arenberg barrel-fermented Chardonnay. This was an immediate success, and the awards and accolades haven’t stopped since.