March 28, 2024

Behind the Bottle: Meet the Winemaker

Definitely a sceptic of non-alcoholic wine! I’m sure no one actually drinks this stuff; it makes no sense.

Welcome to “Behind the Bottle,” a series that uncorks the stories of the artisans who craft the wines we love.

In this edition, we’re pouring into the life of Kane, the head winemaker at Meditrina Beverages. From his humble beginnings as a cellar hand fresh out of school to his ascent into the laboratory, and finally, his blossoming winemaking career starting in 2012, Kane’s journey is as rich and complex as the wines he creates.

Join us as we explore the vineyards through Kane’s eyes, learn about the science and soul he pours into every bottle, and discover the passion that drives one of the industry’s most dedicated winemakers. Whether you’re a seasoned oenophile or a casual sipper, these stories will deepen your appreciation for the art behind every glass of Meditrina wine.

Stay tuned as we barrel through the history, the harvest, and the heart of winemaking with Kane, where every question uncovers layers of flavour.

Can you share a bit about your journey into winemaking and what inspired you to become a winemaker?

I kind of just got lucky, I guess. I applied for a vintage position and started working as a cellar hand fresh out of school. I thought I’d work a vintage, make some money then I’d have time to figure out what I wanted to do in the long term… But I had a lot of fun working in the cellar, so I stayed on. I spent a couple years doing that before moving upstairs to work in the laboratory.

A few more years passed before I started my career in ‘Winemaking’ in 2012. At that time, a position opened up on the 

 

team which they were struggling to fill. I can remember having a chat with the Senior Winemaker at that time. I was asking her how they were going to fill the position. They were doing a lot of hours and I just wanted to help. We started talking about the role then she suggested that I should go for it, so I did.

A day in the life: Could you describe a typical day at the winery?

No two days are the same. I think diversity is what I like the most about the industry. There’s always something new and interesting to learn. Mostly a lot of problem solving, there are always challenges to overcome. I think what makes a good winemaker is how you overcome those challenges. Anyone can make wine, that’s the easy part.

A typical day really depends on which stage of the year we are in. Now we are just coming out of vintage, we have finished crushing but it’s still quite a busy period for us. Currently we are clarifying whites and reds for blending, stabilising and maturation.

"The key to making the best wine possible is to pay attention to the details and treat each wine on its own merit. It’s very easy to get carried away and over do things."

What innovative techniques or practices have you introduced to enhance wine quality?

My approach to winemaking is to stick to the basics, I like to keep things simple. My opinion is that it’s our job to guide the wine through the process and not stuff things up. You do need good fruit to make good wine though, that’s important to note.

I think for me the key to making the best wine possible is to just pay attention to the details and treat each wine on its own merit. It’s very easy to get carried away and over do things.

Which current wine trends are you excited about or sceptical of?

Not sure if this is really a trend but I like seeing that there is a positive change in consumers attitude towards lighter, more elegant styles of wine. Slight move away from over worked, heavily oaked, dense and rich wines.

Definitely a sceptic of non-alcoholic wine! I’m sure no one actually drinks this stuff; it makes no sense.

 

Can you share a memorable winemaking anecdote or behind the scenes moment?

A few years ago, I was working a night shift during vintage. I had just come back to the office after being out in the cellar and needed to wash my hands in the bathroom. When I turned on the tap red wine started pouring out. It was like the “Elevator of Blood’ scene in The Shining.

A casual vintage worker set up his pump in the wrong direction. Whilst pushing through a transfer of red wine with water he accidently he pushed wine back into the watermain instead of water through to the tank. It was in every watermain in the winery. 

Myths: Is there a common wine myth you enjoy debunking for people?

As for the common wine ‘myths’ no not really. I think everyone has google at their fingertips these days, so if you need to learn something as my kids say, ‘just search it up?’.

Do you have a guilty pleasure, wine or drink that might surprise people?

I can’t really think of any guilty pleasure. Wine is made to be enjoyed, so when you are with family and friends what is there to feel guilty about?

What’s one thing on your bucket list that you’re eager to accomplish?

I’d like to travel more. Find a way to travel and work within the industry would be a great lifestyle. Enjoying winemaking traditions and practices from different

regions of the world, experimenting with unique grape varieties or winemaking techniques would be amazing.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in winemaking?

Best advice I received when I started out was to just taste as much wine as possible. There are so many options, so many different styles, varieties, regions etc. Any chance you get to taste, drink and buy wine do it. Exposure really helps build knowledge and confidence in this industry. I learnt to love wine and the process of making wine through tasting as many different wines as I could. It can be quite a 

“When I turned on the tap red wine started pouring out. It was like the “Elevator of Blood’ scene in The Shining.’’

BEHIND THE BOTTLE

 

daunting task describing a wine in front of peers and it’s easy to be influenced by someone else’s opinion, so the more exposure you have the easier it becomes. There are so many things to say here but I think if you are interested in Winemaking the best place to start would be to start in the cellar. This should give you a pretty good insight into the industry. It’s a lifestyle you really need to commit to if you want to do it well.

Are there any misconceptions about the winemaking profession you’d like to address?

The biggest misconception is that you need to wear a puffy vest to be a winemaker… hahaha

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a winemaker?

The vintage period is always a buzz, at least for the start of it anyhow. By the end you are always left wondering why you didn’t choose a different profession.

But in all seriousness, it’s always rewarding seeing the journey from grape through to bottle. Also, being able meet lots of new people and taste lots of wines on a weekly basis is pretty cool too.

 

If you could collaborate with anyone in the world on a wine, who would it be and what would you create?

I think the best thing about wine is sharing it with your family and friends. That’s an easy one for me. So yeah, that’s who I’d pick to collaborate with. What would be better than opening a bottle of something you created with those closest to you and enjoying its evolution every time you get together. Pairing it with good food and music. It’s about the whole experience.

As for the wine, I’d probable say a Pinot Noir purely because it’s what I’d prefer to drink. Suits every occasion.

If you could visit any wine region in the world on vacation, where would you go and why?

Yeah, I’m not sure, depends on the day. I think at this stage I’d probably choose anywhere other than a wine region for a holiday. Am I allowed to say that? We just finished vintage, and I feel like I’ve just spent my entire life at the winery so I couldn’t think of anywhere worse than visiting another winery.

What’s a surprising skill you’ve picked up through your winemaking career?

Too many to list! I’d probably just say just the career itself is surprising for me. I never really imagined I’d be doing what I am doing today.

Where do you draw your inspiration from when creating new wines?

Working in a commercial setting you need to remain conscious of what the customer’s expectations are. Consistency is key for most of our products, but there are situations that come up each year when assessing fruit and potential destinations for those parcels. The willingness to try something new comes from a mix of experience and drive. It also helps having a good team to bounce ideas off and also an owner who is willing to let you experiment.

When I was starting out, I would spend a lot of my time researching how my favourite wines were made. Taking pieces of each one and trialing them for myself to see what works where. Most things are trial and error. One of the best things about the industry is there are so many different options when it comes to making wine and most people are keen to share their own ideas and experiences.

HEARD IT ON THE GRAPEVINE

Immerse yourself in the world of wine – ‘The Grapevine’ awaits with a treasure trove of compelling articles to elevate your understanding and passion for the vine.

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