Winemaking Is Still a Great Place to Be

Our guest blogger today is winemaker Peter Gambetta, writing from the road in Napa Valley.


Peter Gambetta

When Jane invited me to do a guest spot on her blog, I thought, “It’s a quiet time of the year, no problem.” As it has turned out, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I’m writing this from the Napa Valley. I was lucky enough to undertake a study program in Napa visiting Cabernet Sauvignon specialists and have visited such luminaries as Montelena, Duckhorn Vineyards, Opus One and St. Supery. I will also be taking a side trip to the Willamette Valley in Oregon to chat about Pinot Noir.

Before I hit the skies, the team had a big effort putting the finishing touches on some of our Limestone Coast wines and getting blends together. We finalised the 2008 blends of The Menzies and The Cigar, and we put together most of the 2009 Smith & Hooper Cabernet Merlot and Merlot as foundation blends, though there are still a couple of wines we have to decide which way they go. The 2008 Coonawarra wines are shaping up really well with lots of rich berry and dark chocolate and long velvety tannins. The 2009 Wrattonbully wines came together very easily as we were spoiled for choice; at present they are adolescent wines and, like all doting parents, we believe they show a lot of promise.

The Menzies wines have a lot to live up to as on the Thursday night before I left (29th), the 2006 The Cigar took out 4 trophies at the Limestone Coast Wine Show. This included Best Wine of Show, pipping its big brother Menzies for the prize (it took a gold). James Freckleton as the viticulturist of the winning wine received a major award of a travel scholarship to whatever grape growing region he chooses. This is a unique award as wine shows go and it’s excellent for James and his team to get this recognition in their region.

Wherever James chooses to travel, I’m sure he will enjoy the international fellowship of wine as I am now. Vintage has just finished in the Napa Valley and the weather has been difficult for the winemakers. I’ve been very impressed with hospitality shown by the winemakers I’ve visited with the time they’ve taken to show me their wines and the candid discussions on how they do things. Times may be a little tough at present, but wine is still a great craft to be involved in.

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