We were so happy to have a chat to Sue from Lou Miranda Estate who are our wine club wines this month.
Q: How early on did you know you wanted to be a winemaker?
Oooooh this is going to show my age. I was studying Food & Beverage Management (1986 -1987 ) and part of the course was wine appreciation. I always did very well and built on my wine knowledge base that I had from being a member of an Barossa grape growing family on both sides. In 1987 I made the decision to switch from F & B management to winemaking and was accepted into Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1988
Q: How long have you been a winemaker?
A really long time. I completed Roseworthy (Now Adelaide University) in 1990 and graduated in 1991. With a few years of double vintages 2018 was my 32nd Vintage
Q: Where did your journey start?
My 1st vintage was 1990 with Ben Riggs at Wirra Wirra in McLaren Vale SA
Q: Is there a style of wine you really love to make? Why is it special to you?
I have been a red / white both aromatic and full bodied / sparkling winemaker as well as exposure to fortifieds so my experience is very diverse. This is so difficult to answer as all the wine styles have their own demands quirks and magic. Chardonnay is the variety that responses most to winemaking influence and you can drive the final wine result in many directions that’s exciting and challenging. However Riesling is the variety that requires the most delicate and precise touch so requires the most focus. I also love making full bodied high extract reds that the Barossa is renowned. Grenache is exciting and I am learning to apply alternative fermentation techniques to capture the most out of this variety. Sparkling requires patience and systematic approach and I am discovering more about Italian varietals of which Sagrantino from Umbria is currently my favourite.
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the winemaker today?
I think there are two major threats to the wine industry . Firstly climate change and although we are responsive and reactive there are challenges coming to some regions that will not be able to be overcome. Secondly the anti-alcohol movement. The wine industry needs to continually to reinforce the positive benefits of wine consumption not only the health benefits associated with moderate consumption but also the way in which sharing wine with family and friends is good for the soul.
Q: How has the role of the winemaker changed since you began your career?
There are many varied roles for winemakers. There is the technical winemaker , the operational winemaker , the brand promotion winemaker , the owner/operator winemaker, the general manager winemaker , the research winemaker, the specialist winemaker, the consultant winemaker. The role of winemaker has evolved over 30 years but this is in response to the Australian wine industry changing and the needs of the industry. When I started the industry was dominated by small family owned wineries to an industry dominated by the multinationals to now the re-emergence of the small owner operator brands. The winemaker role is determined by the needs of the business.
Q: What is special about winemaking in your region? What challenges and opportunities does the region present?.
Barossa Valley is special because of its German heritage and wine industry history established 1843. Barossa has the oldest planted Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Mouvedere in the world. I am so privileged to be working with fruit from four centenarian blocks within Lou Miranda Estate. Climate change is a threat to the Barossa as is mislabelling and counterfeiting. Barossa will continue to build on its reputation as one of the world’s great wine regions. We have the oldest soil on the oldest continent in which we have the oldest vines planted we need to protect this extraordinary natural asset.
Q: If money and time were no issue, is there a particular wine you would love to make?
I believe Australia has regions that haven’t been explored yet that have the potential to produce Sparkling wines to challenge Champagne. I would be a pioneer into these regions and build an empire.
Q: What or who, inspires you?
Mmmmmm I’m not sure. I have different inspirations and motivations all the time depending on where, what, who, how. I am always striving to be kinder person and a better winemaker. Some days I’m not very good at either.
Q: Have you had a particular role model or mentor that has shaped the direction of your career?
I have been so fortunate that I have worked with some of the most fantastic people. Neil Jericho and Philip Laffer I would thank for passing on some of their skills, knowledge and wisdom to me.
Q: Where do you see the Australian and your region wine industries heading?
Mmmmmm really not sure. I think the Australian industry will continue to innovate throughout the industry from vineyard to distribution it’s just part of the Australian wine industry ethos.
Q: Fast forward ten years. Where are you?
Making wine. Where? For whom? I don’t know …………………..that’s part of the fun!!!
Q: If you could drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oh that’s not fair. It depends on the climate.
Q: How was Vintage 2018?
Vintage 2018 in the Barossa Valley was very stressful . Everyone and the vines had to contend with several weeks of really hot weather in the lead up to Vintage which then caused uneven ripening across the region. It was a vintage that you needed to hold your nerve and not pick early and allow flavour and tannin to catch up with the sugar. The resultant red wines have a density of colour
Q: Best Value on the market right now?
Of course Lou Miranda Estate wines. Bargains at any price !!!! Also check out 2017 Turkey Flat Grenache