Alex Camatta
12 April 2022 | Alex Camatta

The Interview Series #10

Georgia, you started with Shaw + Smith in 2021. Can you tell us  a little about how you ended up in the wine industry?

I’ve been in hospitality for years, and I really enjoy food and wine. I also really love cooking and growing things so I decided one day to try studying and thought winemaking would be a sort of marriage of making things and being in the world of food and wine without having to do the hospo life! 

I’m hoping to further explore the viticulture side of the industry as well, as I love seeing the cycles of the seasons and how vines develop and produce the grapes we love so much.

What does a typical day in the lab look like during vintage?

Busy! Each day can be slightly different but overall we need to keep on top of what’s going on in the winery, in terms of fruit processing (press loads), barreling down of white juices or red wines, transfers and ferments so that we can do analysis where required. We also help culture yeast and malo bugs (to conduct malolactic fermentation) which is pretty cool to see. 

At the start of vintage we analyse maturity samples from growers and our own vineyards, this information is passed onto the winemakers and viticulturalists to help make picking decisions.

The lab is a really great place to get an overview of what is going on across the entire winery from crushing through to bottling. We communicate with the winemakers throughout the day which is helpful to understand the decisions they make on a daily basis and then see the results in the wine.

You work incredibly long days, do you think your hospitality experience prepared you for this? What gets you through a shift?

Yes, for sure. Being able to work on your feet for 12 hours during vintage is certainly a fitness I developed working doubles in restaurants! It’s nice to sit down sometimes to do some computer work but generally I like to be up and about. But the adrenaline you get from a busy day in the winery, similar to a busy service in hospo, gives you so much energy which makes the work easier. 

Also coffee is the MVP.

Lastly, is there a wine from the 2022 vintage that you’re particularly excited to try?

I do love the Tolpuddle wines, it’s very exciting to see the fruit arrive knowing how far it’s come. We haven’t seen all of it yet but it’s looking awesome so far.

And also the Riesling, I love our Riesling. It's only just starting ferment, but it's such a delicious wine, I’m always excited to see it every year.


Time Posted: 12/04/2022 at 8:20 AM Permalink to The Interview Series #10 Permalink
Alex Camatta
14 February 2022 | Alex Camatta

The Interview Series #9

In this Interview Series #9, Alex Camatta chats with Tasting Room personality, Sam Little.  Sam joined the team as Assistant Tasting Room Manager in 2020. 

Sam, can you tell us a little about your career before joining the Shaw + Smith team?

I actually fell backwards into the wine industry, to an extent. I studied Media at university and majored in journalism before moving into freelance work for local music and lifestyle blogs. After discovering a passion for all things fermented, I began working casually at the S.C. Pannell Cellar Door in McLaren Vale. I quickly fell in love with the wine industry and moved into a permanent role at SCP. I spent a great three years there, learning the craft and developing a keen interest in complex grape varietals like Nebbiolo and Chardonnay. I left Pannell early in 2020 due to musical opportunities which were sidelined by the pandemic, but was lucky enough that an opportunity came up here at Shaw + Smith. Chardonnay in mind, I jumped at it, and here I am.

What do you consider to be unique about the Shaw + Smith tasting experience?

I think it’s the purity of it. It’s truly all about the wine. It forces people to slow down and immerse themselves in the experience. I love the balance between conversational and informative – it’s what I look for when I venture out into the wine world. We’re also incredibly blessed with our team; the level of knowledge is encyclopaedic. The wine and cheese combination is brilliance in simplicity. It just works.

When you’re not pouring wine or navigating the Tasting Room Spotify List, what will we find you doing with your spare time?

You’ve hit the bullseye with music. My band and I have been lucky enough to tour a considerable part of Australia over the past couple of years. If I’m not pouring wine, there’s a good chance I'm drinking it somewhere sunny or making an idiot of myself on-stage – sometimes all at once.

Do you have a favourite wine/song pairing?

Sheesh, this is a tough one. If we’re going classy, it’d have to be 2016 Vietti Barolo Castiglione and Frank Sinatra’s cover of Blue Moon. Of an afternoon, though, 2019 Cobaw Ridge Chardonnay and the Go Farther In Lightness record by Gang Of Youths, in its entirety – it’s a long album so let’s chase that bottle with a 2019 S+S M3, thanks.

Tasting Room remains open 11-5, daily.  Sam and the team are working hard to maintain a safe environment for you to enjoy our wines, while navigating current restrictions. If you’re planning to visit, we recommend booking here.

Time Posted: 14/02/2022 at 1:00 PM Permalink to The Interview Series #9 Permalink
Alex Camatta
28 July 2021 | Alex Camatta

The Interview Series #8

Alex Camatta chats with CFO Grant Lovelock, who joined the team at Shaw + Smith in 2009, and is one of our longest standing employees. He is a Chartered Accountant and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors with over 25 years of experience in the wine industry.

Grant, can you tell us a little about your career and how you become involved in the wine industry?

My initial involvement in the wine industry was at the retail level, working at Baily & Baily, whilst at University. To show you how small Adelaide is, I worked with David LeMire at the same store. Following the completion of my degree, I was employed as an auditor at Ernst & Young and then Beston Pacific Corporation. These two roles allowed me to gain valuable experience working with Tarac Industries, Suntory, Wolf Blass Wines and Andrew Garrett Wines. Prior to my employment at Shaw + Smith, I worked for 12 years at Pernod Ricard (“Orlando Wines”) in a number of finance and commercial roles, both in the Adelaide Head Office and in the Barossa Valley. My first role at Pernod Ricard in the late 1990’s was a financial accounting position at their recently acquired ready to drink business - Two Dogs, based out of the Astor Hotel.

This year you will celebrate 13 years with the company. What is the biggest change you’ve seen during your tenure at Shaw + Smith?

Many things have changed, however the ongoing focus on our customer experiences and direct to consumer businesses, brand growth, increased capital investment in our vineyards, winery and cloud based operating IT systems, staff development and effective practices and protocols to minimise the impact on the environment, across all areas of the business.

And the most exciting development to come?

The continued focus on quality and the development of the Piccadilly Vineyard with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

When you’re not creating excel spreadsheets, how do you spend your time?

Lazy weekends at Middleton, spending fun times with my wife Sally, two adult children and friends, watching AFL, cricket and the share market.  I am trying to understand the cryptocurrency market and have recently acquired an interest in charcoal cooking – a member of the Cyprus Grill Club!  I play the occasional game of golf with my mates, that provides plenty of laughs and I am always on the lookout for cricket memorabilia from the 1920’s and 1930’s, when my wife’s grandfather played for Australia and South Australia.

Lastly, you are known in the office for your love of Pinot Noir. Is there a particular vintage which stands out for you?

The 2018 Shaw + Smith Lenswood Pinot Noir is a favourite which pairs best with Duck, that I haven’t had to cook myself!

Time Posted: 28/07/2021 at 11:58 AM Permalink to The Interview Series #8 Permalink
Alex Camatta
23 April 2021 | Alex Camatta

The Interview Series #7

In this Interview Series #7, Tasting Room Manager Alex Camatta chats all things Chardonnay with Joint CEO and Chief Winemaker, Adam Wadewitz.

Adam, you’ve received many awards for Chardonnay over the years. Can you tell us more about your interest in this variety?

Prior to starting at Shaw + Smith, I was the senior winemaker for Seppelt, based in the Grampians at Great Western. The exciting part of working there for me was a vineyard in the South, in the Henty region, called Drumborg which was planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling. It is one of the coolest mainland regions in Australia. My interest in Chardonnay was really piqued at this time so I’ve long been a Chardonnay tragic.

While working for Seppelt, I remember having a chance to see wines from all around Australia and the ones that really stood out to me were Adelaide Hills and Tasmania. It’s quite serendipitous that I have now spent the last 9 years working with Adelaide Hills and Tasmanian fruit. It’s been a fascinating journey to be on.

What do you think makes the Adelaide Hills so well suited to Chardonnay?

It’s the one variety for me that is a real match made in heaven. Not often in new world places, and particularly in Australia, do you find such balance.

Often in cold places you end up with high natural acidity, but you don’t always see weight. What you see in the Hills is a mid-palate weight which gives shape to the wine and is beautiful. I feel there’s a real attraction and affinity of Chardonnay with (parts of?) the Adelaide Hills.

We’ve seen considerable changes to our viticulture practices over the last few years, including entering the process of organic conversion. How impactful are our vineyard practices on the final wine?

We take a holistic approach which informs everything we do. It starts with doing the right thing by the soil. And when you’re doing the right thing by the soil, you’re also doing the right thing by the plants and the microbes that are living there. As a result, we have more resilient, healthier plants. We sometimes see less fruit, but that’s ok when you have more balance.

Ultimately, it’s about the place and the attributes of that place. There’s certainly lots you can do with Chardonnay; you can shape it to be a better version of itself. For us, it always comes back to where it’s from, and when we finally get the fruit in the winery, we like that there isn’t much we need to do. 

Is there a particular vintage of Chardonnay you have made at Shaw + Smith that stands out for you?

There’s a few. I remember the 2014 vintage was an amazing year because it was so cold and there was a lot of flavour intensity. I remember sticking a flag in the ground and saying that we’re not going to see a better vintage than this! While I’m not sure we have, when 15 rolled around it was also a stand out.

The thing about chardonnay is that there is some malleability to it. You can like a chardonnay in two very different seasons for different reasons. In the warmer seasons you get opulence and in cooler seasons you see acidity and fineness.

If there is one wine that leaves me thinking more than most, it is the yet to be released 2019 Lenswood Vineyard Chardonnay. It’s a special wine.

The 2014 M3 Chardonnay has been made available in a Chardonnay Wine Flight for Chardonnay May. Book your tasting here.

Time Posted: 23/04/2021 at 1:44 PM Permalink to The Interview Series #7 Permalink
Alex Camatta
25 February 2021 | Alex Camatta

The Interview Series #6

In this interview series, Alex Camatta chats with joint CEO David LeMire MW about our Single Vineyard wines. David joined the team at Shaw + Smith in 2010, as Global Sales and Marketing Manager. He is involved in education with the Institute of Masters of Wine, is a wine show judge, and writes articles for Australia’s Wine Business Magazine.

David, you became a Master of Wine in 2007. Can you tell us a little about the process and what set you on this path?

When I did the WSET Diploma, which I did in London in 1995, I enjoyed the process so much that I knew that going on and doing the MW was the right option for me. I also knew that I needed a break after the Diploma, so it wasn’t until 2002 that I entered the MW programme. I feel really grateful that I did. It was great fun, challenging, and has opened a lot of doors for me. It is a big commitment though – total immersion in the process is what it took, for me. The process is different for everyone – it is largely self-study – but it involved a lot of tasting, reading, writing, things that I still get to do in my current role.

We often hear about the importance of site selection in relation to wine. Can you explain how this differs in single vineyard wines compared to regional wines?

With regional wines the sites are crucial but there is flexibility. A wine might be really interesting but not complete on its own. It might have some elements, like acidity or a particular flavour, that need to be balanced with another wine to tame them or add to them. It’s a great challenge to select sites that can work together, and then to have in mind the end product as each batch of fruit is being processed.  You can definitely treat one site with more freedom and creativity if it is going into a blend, rather than standing alone. For single vineyard wines, the challenge is to retain the unique character of the site, but also achieve a wine that is complete, that stands alone and has balance. We are still selecting sites from within a single vineyard for our single vineyard wines, so that allows some freedom. 

What factors determine which sites or blocks become Shaw + Smith Single Vineyard wines?

The key is that the vineyard must have something distinctive to say.  So those sites or blocks that we feel best express what the vineyard has to say are the ones that we will choose. They might be on the best soil, have an interesting aspect, or be older vines, but there’s no rule that fits every time. What sections of the vineyard are going to be more interesting and expressive of how we see this land, and of what this vineyard can be.  It’s great to see the winemakers taking a step back and avoiding the temptation to impose their vision, and instead listening and giving voice to the character of the vineyard.

In your experience, what is it about single vineyard wines that make them so special?

For me it is the connection with the place.  With a single vineyard, we can trace the influence of the season, the evolution of the winemaker, and we can get to know the terroir over the decades. This is so much more meaningful than to have just one encounter. We could have a wonderful experience of meeting someone once but we won’t really know them and appreciate all their qualities unless we get to know them over years.

Is there a particular vintage or wine from the Single Vineyard range which stand out to you?

There are a few. For me the 2015 Lenswood Chardonnay is the most complete, with great charm as well as structure, and ageing potential. The 2017 Balhannah Shiraz is such an individual, a great character, it’s uncompromising and doesn’t aim to please, but just is itself. It is polarising but one of the most interesting wines we’ve ever made, and that’s a great trait to have.

Time Posted: 25/02/2021 at 3:49 PM Permalink to The Interview Series #6 Permalink
Alex Camatta
19 January 2021 | Alex Camatta

The Interview Series #5

In this Interview Series #5, we chat with Senior Winemaker, Matt Large, who joined the Shaw + Smith team in September 2020. Alex Camatta, our Tasting Room Manager, speaks with Matt about his winemaking career and the upcoming 2021 vintage.

Matt, can you tell us a little about your winemaking career thus far and what inspired a career in the industry?

I didn’t come from a winemaking family, but my father was always interested in wine and I have distinct memories as a child of visiting cellar doors; my parents holding wine dinners for friends and family; and me absorbing their interest and excitement about wine and sharing it with others. In terms of my career, I’m passionate about viticulture as well as winemaking. In fact, I think it’s impossible to separate the two, and immediately before Shaw + Smith, I was running vineyards and making high-altitude Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at Shadowfax winery in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria.  I have also spent a few years of my career over in Barolo, Italy. I was lucky enough to work vintage with Francesco Versio at Figli Luigi Oddero in 2017 and then stayed on as the Vintage Assistant Winemaker. Coming to Shaw + Smith and having the ability to work with such amazing vineyards and such a great team has been fantastic. Our new Piccadilly Vineyard project in the Hills is incredibly exciting stuff, as is the continued work down at the Tolpuddle Vineyard in Tasmania, so I’m keen to be a part of that and see the next chapter unfold.

What does the average day in the Shaw + Smith cellar look like for you?

The great thing about winemaking is that every day is different. The only thing that doesn’t change is our morning coffee and chat. Every day we meet around the coffee machine at 7:50am and talk about what’s ahead and make a plan for whatever needs to get done. Right now, we are getting the last couple of wines ready for bottling before vintage 2021, in particular, the M3 Chardonnay and Tolpuddle Pinot Noir. That means emptying all the barrels of their wine and blending them together in tank to rest before bottling. In a few weeks’ time, the days will look very different as the new vintage of fruit will be getting picked and coming into the winery, and the place will be full of grapes and ferments, and the barrels will be getting filled again. It’s a busy time, and I’ll definitely be needing that morning coffee then!

How are the early forecast for vintage 2021 shaping up, and what excites you most about your first vintage at Shaw + Smith?

Things are looking great for the 2021 vintage. We had really good winter and early spring rainfall here in the Hills which replenished soil moisture and perfectly set up the growing season to follow. Since then, things have been progressing nicely so everyone is gearing up for a great harvest. Down in Tassie it is much the same, and the Tolpuddle Vineyard is looking stellar as we head towards veraison and the critical last couple of months of ripening. What I’m excited about with this first vintage is seeing fruit in the winery from our different vineyards and varieties in the Hills - there is so much intricate variation within our sites in terms of soil, aspect and micro-climate and I can’t wait to see that through from the fruit stage first-hand.

Lastly, is there a particular wine you turn to after a long day in the cellar?

Things in the cellar can be pretty hectic at times, especially during vintage. It’s important to take the time to take stock and reflect on the day, the season and the work ahead. Personally, I think the Tolpuddle Chardonnay is a wine that really forces you to slow down and contemplate the beauty and complexity that can be found in wine. What’s more, its minerality and focused coil of acidity are incredibly refreshing and invigorating. The Tolpuddle Vineyard is a pretty special place and I feel pretty lucky to be able to come back to a glass of that after a long day in the cellar.

The Tolpuddle Vineyard in the Coal River Valley, Tasmania was purchased by Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith MW in 2011. The climate is cool and dry - ideal conditions to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of exceptional quality. The fruit is carefully transported to the Shaw + Smith winery and made onsite in the Adelaide Hills. Tolpuddle Wines can be purchased here.

Time Posted: 19/01/2021 at 3:37 PM Permalink to The Interview Series #5 Permalink
Alex Camatta
12 November 2020 | Alex Camatta

The Interview Series #4

In this Interview Series #4, we speak with Kavita Faiella, Sommelier and Sales + Marketing Manager at Shaw + Smith. Alex Camatta, our Tasting Room Manager spoke to Kavita about what led her to the world of wine and what she’ll be pouring during the festive season.
Can you tell us a little about how you started working as a Sommelier?

I started working in restaurants in Sydney whilst I was studying at university. I worked for restauranteur Tim Connell and chef Stefano Manfredi at both Coast and Manta. It was the first time I had experienced working in restaurants with sommeliers and was pretty impressed that there was a person whose job it was to look after the wine side of things. I had grown up eating in more simple Greek, Lebanese and Indian restaurants with my family, so the whole world of wine and its service was new to me. I looked into how you became a sommelier and somehow convinced Tim to set me up on what I called a sommeliership, similar to a chef apprenticeship and I went to TAFE one day a week and worked in the restaurants full time. I loved how much there was to learn about wine and that I could learn something one day and put it into practise in the restaurant immediately. Unlike what I was studying at university, that seemed years away from ever being a reality. So, I made decision to differ from university and commit fully to being a wine professional. I haven’t ever looked back. 

When did you realise you could make a career in the wine industry?

Right from the time I knew being a sommelier was a career, I thought it was a great job. For me personally, the opportunities that being a sommelier could bring became a reality when I was working in the Maldives as the head sommelier of the Conrad property and was offered roles at both the French Laundry in California and The Fat Duck in the UK, two of the best restaurants in the world at the time. It made me realise that this was a job that allowed me to not only do what I love and work with something I'm passionate about, but to also travel the world and experience living in other countries. 

Do you remember the first time a wine really blew you away?

It's never about just what’s in the glass for me, I am equally as interested in the story of the place it comes from, the people that made it and the journey the wine has taken to get the table it is being opened at. Perhaps that comes from having worked in a number of pretty unique places throughout my career from the Maldives to Bhutan and everywhere in between. It always amazed me, that we could be drinking the very same wine, so far away from the place it was made. My fondest memory of this realisation, was when I was visiting Piedmont for the first time, I had an appointment with one of my favourite producers, Elio Altare - it was the first time I had met him and his daughter Silvia. At the time I was working in the Maldives and always brought a brochure of the resort so that winemakers could see exactly where their wines had travelled to. As we flicked through the pages, I could see that Elio was getting quite emotional and was wiping away tears, Silvia asked if he was ok, he responded that he was fantastico, and explained that as first generation winemaker from a small town in Northern Italy he had only ever hoped that his wines would be popular in his own country and to see them being enjoyed in countries all around the world, some that he would never visit himself, was very special. I have always taken great pride that as a sommelier, one of our fundamental roles is to be the conduit of so many wineries around the world, where we are able to introduce people to not just the wines, but even more so, the stories of those who make them and the places they come from. 

Today I get to do that with Shaw + Smith, as I travel around the country and the world, telling people about the Adelaide Hills and our amazing team that make them.

What mistakes do people most often make when pairing wines with food?

They overcomplicate it. If there is a food you love and wine you love, even if they are technically not well matched, you will still enjoy eating and drinking them together. A simple tip that works well for pairing is to pay attention to the colour of both the wine and dish. Take chicken for example, if its poached and light in colour it will more than likely pair best with a light white such as young Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc, once it has been roasted or fried, and takes on a deeper colour, a more full bodied white like Chardonnay would work better, and if you add a darker sauce such as a gravy, then a light red becomes a great partner. I love drinking Pinot Noir with raw tuna as an example of a perfect match both in colour and on the palate. 

Which Shaw + Smith wines will you be enjoying during the festive season?

Given that come Christmas this year, I'll be 8 months pregnant, it might be slightly less vinous this year. We’re lucky at our house though, my cousin is also a sommelier, so there is always lots of delicious wine being splashed around the table. That being said, I will be sure to open up some of the newly released Lenswood Pinot Noir for everyone, it's in such a great drinking window at the moment, perfect for summer and cold Christmas ham straight out of the fridge!

Time Posted: 12/11/2020 at 11:36 AM Permalink to The Interview Series #4 Permalink
Alex Camatta
14 October 2020 | Alex Camatta

The Interview Series #3

In this Interview Series #3, we speak with Ashlea van Riet, designer of our summer gift box and much loved member of our Tasting Room Team. Tasting Room Manager, Alex Camatta chats to Ashlea about her career in the art and wine industries and the inspiration behind the design of the summer gift box.

Ashlea, how did your career in art begin?

Gosh, I guess I’ve always been a creative person, I think it’s in my blood! I come from a family of creatives who encouraged me to draw and paint so, ever since I can remember, art has been an integral part of my life. However I only started taking it more seriously about 8 years ago.

Can you speak to the inspiration behind the design?

The Shaw + Smith team were already quite familiar with my work, and had one of my previous artworks in mind as a source of inspiration. They liked my use of colour and more importantly texture, both of which appear in the design of this box. Personally, I heard the word “summer” and wanted to create something really fun but still on brand, which I think we have achieved. 

At what point in your life did you develop an interest in wine?

Hmmm, is it bad to say it all started with enjoying a lot of it? Living in the Adelaide Hills means being surrounded by incredible wineries so it's easy to become passionate about great wine. I was married at a local winery, which is what first inspired the idea of working in wine. Then two years ago, I was lucky enough to join the Shaw + Smith Tasting Room team. I now balance my week between the art studio and the tasting room, talking about amazing wine!

It’s not often that these two worlds collide for you come together so well. How did your familiarity with the brand influence the finished product?

I definitely find myself in a unique position, and feel incredibly honoured that I was asked to design this summer gift box! I’ve been working for Shaw + Smith for two years, so I do feel as though I have a strong understanding of the brand and ethos. Working at Shaw + Smith while collaborating with the team helped to maintain constant communication throughout the design process. We worked closely together to create the final artwork. 

Which wine would you be most excited to find in this gift box?

I’m a Chardonnay girl through and through and believe that Shaw + Smith make some of the best in the Hills. I’d be pretty chuffed with either a 2019 M3 Chardonnay or the 2018 Lenswood Vineyard Chardonnay. Yum!

Time Posted: 14/10/2020 at 2:07 PM Permalink to The Interview Series #3 Permalink
Alex Camatta
17 September 2020 | Alex Camatta

The Interview Series #2

In this Interview Series #2, we chat with Murray Leake, one of the Adelaide Hills' most respected viticulturists and a highly regarded member of the team. Alex Camatta, our Tasting Room Manager, spoke with Murray about the upcoming season and the importance of site selection in wine production.

Murray, what was it that drew you to the world of viticulture?

The true answer is by accident.

As a young man I was unaware of careers in viticulture, and a chance discussion with a neighbour, who was a winemaker for Lindeman’s at the time (early 1990s), knowing that I had an interest in wine and vineyards, suggested I should study viticulture. So I did.

With Spring upon us, and coming out of a wet winter, how is the new growing season shaping up? 

Rainfall during the dormant period has been good to replenish soil moisture and fill dams to capacity, which puts the vines in a good position to commence the growing season. The medium term weather forecast suggests a lower frost risk compared to the last two seasons.

Early varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are just approaching budburst, which is about normal. In around 2 weeks, when young shoots have developed and inflorescences are visible, we will be able to assess the fruitfulness, and potential yield.

Site selection has been integral to the Single Vineyard wines. What is it about our sites that make them so suited to their individual varietals? 

While all of our sites in the Adelaide Hills are considered cool climate, our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blocks are situated on our highest altitude and coolest site, at Lenswood, and Shiraz blocks on the warmer site in Balhannah, whereas Sauvignon Blanc grapes are sourced from a wider range of sites across the Adelaide Hills.

Aspect also plays a part in site selection, with the cooler aspects being South and East. This is the aspect for the majority of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at our Lenswood vineyard, whereas Shiraz at Balhannah is on a north facing aspect.

Is there a particular wine from our Single Vineyard range that you’re enjoying right now?

The 2018 Lenswood Vineyard Pinot Noir is drinking beautifully and is stylistically unique to other Hills examples.

Over the past number of years we have changed our management practices to follow organic principles and now are certified organic in transition across both Balhannah and Lenswood vineyards. Can you talk us through this process; what are the benefits of this approach and what challenges does it present our viticulture team?

The whole transition to organic has been less challenging than first thought, and we believe this is due to our measured approach. We spent a number of years addressing soil health with multiple applications of composts, removing all herbicide, reverting to a combination of under-vine cultivation and permanent cover for weed control, as well as removing all synthetic fungicide, insecticide and fertiliser.

We believe by running our vineyards as organic we correct the balance of micro-organisms in the soil that promote nutrient cycling and availability within the soil to support vine growth, which provides inherent resistance to pest and disease. We like to compare soil health and the vine root system to the human digestive system, where microbes support nutrient breakdown and health. In this sense, soil health and biodiversity translates to vine health. Similarly, a healthy population of beneficial micro-organisms on and within the vine canopy and bunches supports vine health, as this then becomes a natural defence system against external diseases.

We further support biodiversity within the vineyard via permanent mid-row swards and designated biodiversity areas in and around the vineyard, providing a habitat for insect-eating birds and micro bats, as well as an environment to support beneficial predatory insects.

One of the most obvious changes we have noticed already is a change in soil structure as well as invertebrate and microbial activity within the soil, which has improved water infiltration from rainfall and root distribution within the soil. We are also not seeing foliar nutrient deficiency symptoms, which in the past were common. The whole system appears more balanced, and we believe this difference in the vineyards will be reflected in the fruit and wine.

Lastly, the acquisition of the Piccadilly site has given us the opportunity to build a vineyard from the ground up. Could you speak to how your approach would differ in 2020 versus 2000 and what this will mean for Shaw + Smith moving into the future?

Piccadilly has given us the opportunity to develop a new vineyard and implement a well thought-out design, using practices drawn from vineyards across multiple regions and countries, using techniques that we believe will work best under conditions and site specifics at Piccadilly.

This vineyard will differ greatly from our existing vineyards by having a higher vine density - 10,666 vines/ha - double that of our next highest density site. Trellis construction will also differ slightly: while continuing with a Vertical Shoot Position (VSP) system, our post height will be lower, row spaces will be narrower, cordon height closer to ground level. In addition new clones of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will be introduced along with some existing clones.

The site itself was chosen because the majority is south facing which, combined with a higher altitude than any of our other sites, will make it one of the coolest in the Adelaide Hills. The higher rainfall at Piccadilly combined with the lower cordon and close row spacing also adds a humidity difference to our other sites.

We are sure the high density planting will present some unexpected challenges, but that is what makes it more exciting! Nevertheless, once complete, we believe it will be a unique vineyard within South Australia, and provide us with a fruit source unlike any other.

Time Posted: 17/09/2020 at 4:02 PM Permalink to The Interview Series #2 Permalink
Alex Camatta
18 August 2020 | Alex Camatta

The Interview Series #1

The intention behind these interviews, which will be a regular feature, is to introduce you to the team members working hard behind the scenes at Shaw + Smith. From our winery and viticultural team, to the tasting room and office, we’ve got some great people for you to meet.

Tasting Room Manager, Alex Camatta, has taken on the mantle of chief interviewer, to share insights of what the team get up to, both in and outside of Shaw + Smith.

In this first instalment of our Interview Series, Alex introduces you to Tara Sullivan, Shaw + Smith’s Wine Club manager and the face behind the emails and updates you receive from us.

Tara, could we have a snapshot of your early years, where you were born, went to school, your early plans and aspirations?

Born in Townsville in FNQ, my family then moved back to Adelaide when I was young. I grew up with parents and 3 brothers in the Adelaide foothills, attending school and University in SA, before venturing overseas at 21, on a year-long backpacking tour of Ireland and Europe. Travelling gave me a greater appreciation for what SA has to offer. Coming back, I was keen to stay in my home state, close to family, and concentrated on fulfilling a long-held aspiration of working in wine. I undertook marketing roles in a variety of industries, including finance, legal and tourism, before making the move to wine, first in the Barossa and then to the Adelaide Hills with Shaw + Smith.  

What was it that drew you to the world of wine?

I believe that SA has a lot to offer as a wine and tourism destination. Wine is fun, and celebratory, creating a sense of occasion, and drinking wine brings people together. Also, the agricultural aspect really appeals to me. It’s great to be involved in something that you really believe in. And being a hills dweller, I have particular regard for this beautiful region. 

Tell us a little about your home life and how you spend your weekends?

Time spent with family is really important to me. I value weekends at home with my husband and daughter on our small property, around 20 acres of relatively hilly terrain. We have a small Chardonnay vineyard on a steep aspect, a real labour of love. My first attempt at making my own wine, pre-Shaw + Smith days, was a dismal failure. We’ve recently handed over the vineyard to a (winemaker) friend to manage and take the fruit.  I’ve had more success with apple cider, made in a ‘Scrumpy’ style. We have a number of apple trees, as well as cherries. Also, a lemon orchard, along with sheep and a few chooks, surrounded by native bush. 

When we first moved to the Hills, I was quite enchanted with the idea of becoming more self-sufficient. I admit to holding dreams of looming alpaca wool in the early days on the property, that never quite eventuated. But we have established a reasonable vegetable garden, a trout stocked dam, and my husband is creating an interesting topiary nursery, which is his thing. 

We are close to the Heysen Trail, so there are some great walking tracks nearby. All in all, it’s a pretty special place to call home. 

Besides sharing with your colleagues, what is it that you do with all the surplus lemons?

Reminiscent of Forest Gump, and Bubba’s litany of shrimp… Limoncello, lemon curd, lemon tarts, lemon cordial, lemonade…

Thank you, Tara. It was great to get a little more insight into the name behind the emails. Before we finish up, do you have a favourite wine memory or perfect wine-drinking scenario you would like to share with us?

Keeping it close to home… a long lunch with friends at the Star of Greece, Port Willunga… Chardonnay in the glass and some delicious seafood, is a great way to spend a Sunday (they are currently pouring our Lenswood Vineyard Chardonnay too!)

With winter still upon us, this scenario paints a welcome picture for what we have to look forward to, come spring.


Time Posted: 18/08/2020 at 2:26 PM Permalink to The Interview Series #1 Permalink