“Wine was always on the dinner table… There was always pruning work in the winter holidays,” says the winemaker at Amisfield in Central Otago - Winery of the Year at this year’s Organic Wine Awards.
When it was time to choose a career path, the combination of science and creativity, with the possibility of travel, were major drawcards for studying oenology. Greg did exceptionally well, graduating from the University of Adelaide in 2010 as Dux and with a Bachelor in Oenology with First Class Honours. He was right about travelling, and went on to work in Burgundy, Oregon in the US and Italy, as well as multiple regions across Australia and New Zealand. “Wine has taken me around the world and introduced me to many amazing people, including my fiancé Sarah, so it has been a good choice I would say.”
Prior to joining Amisfield, Greg was at Foley Family Wines in Marlborough and says working there was “incredibly rewarding”. He appreciated the focus on wine quality within the business, regardless of its scale. “The learning curve at the bigger end of town is immense, and it really sharpens your focus on the important details.”
He enjoyed his time with the company, which included winning Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year in 2018. However, he wanted to follow his passion for Pinot Noir, which was the deciding factor in taking up the winemaker role at Amisfield earlier this year.
“The chance to get back to small batch, premium Pinot Noir winemaking was the ultimate drawcard.” The change to a smaller cellar has presented plenty of new learning opportunities, including forward planning, “as you don’t have all the levers to pull in the winery”, he says. However, he is confident his team can tackle anything after the 2020 vintage. “I am fortunate to have joined an enthusiastic and experienced winery team who are up for the challenge to make great organic wine,” says Greg. “I have also learnt that my back gets a bit sorer than it used to after a day on the tools.”
Amisfield’s organic certification was another factor in Greg’s decision to move there. “I definitely believe this is the way forward for all forms of agriculture if we want to be able to continue farming successfully on the same land in 25, 50 or 100 years.”