Winemakers Virginia Willcock (Vasse Felix), Louisa Rose (Yalumba) and Sarah Crowe (Yarra Yering) discussed the unprecedented 2020 vintage in Margaret River, Barossa Valley and Yarra Valley.
The winemakers beamed in live from their respective regions, whilst Sarah Ahmed led the conversation and fielded questions. During the webinar, they shared their perspectives on vintage for their wines and regions. Attendees got a flavour of the year, heard about comparative vintages, and what was different this time. The winemakers opened up about the opportunities and challenges of the season, and what they’re learning and how they’re adapting.
Chief Winemaker at Vasse Felix
Virginia Willcock is the Chief Winemaker at Margaret River’s founding wine estate, Vasse Felix. Having grown up in Perth in Western Australia, Virginia’s interest in wine began as a teenager when her father bought a small vineyard just north of the city. As Chief Winemaker at Vasse Felix since 2006, Virginia has transformed the winemaking style into a more hands-off approach that results in premium wines that couldn’t have been made anywhere else. Today, Virginia is an authority on Margaret River winemaking, having completed nearly 30 grape harvests in the region. She has won a number of prestigious winemaking awards, is a sought-after wine show judge and has served on the board of the Margaret River Wine Industry Association for several years.
Chief Winemaker at Yalumba
Louisa Rose is the Chief Winemaker at 170 year old winery Yalumba in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. After working on her family's vineyard in Victoria's Yarra Valley, Louisa started at Yalumba as a cellar hand in 1992 whilst studying at Roseworthy College. She returned to Yalumba for the 1993 vintage and hasn’t left! As Chief Winemaker since 2006, Louisa is the custodian of both Yalumba tradition and innovation at the winery. With the creation of ‘The Virgilius’ Viognier, Yalumba’s pre-eminent white wine, Louisa is recognised across the world for her pioneering work with this variety. She has forged an identity for Australian Viognier as well as challenged perceptions of Barossa Shiraz. Louisa is an active member and current Grand Master of Barossa winemaking fraternity The Barons of Barossa and Chair of the Board of the Australian Wine Research Institute.
Winemaker and General Manager at Yarra Yering
Sarah Crowe is the Winemaker and General Manager at Yarra Yering, one of the oldest vineyards in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. After 12 years in the Hunter Valley, Sarah moved to the Yarra Valley and joined Yarra Yering in 2013. Focusing on this single iconic vineyard site and shining a light on the individual blocks and varieties, Sarah is continuing the tradition that Dr Carrodus started in 1969. However, she has firmly put her mark on Yarra Yering. During her time, both the vineyard and winemaking techniques have evolved and the wines have changed, displaying more elegance, purity and perfume. With the wines made in her first vintage in 2014, Sarah received one of the industry’s highest honours. She was named James Halliday 2017 Winemaker of the Year, the first woman to receive this award.
The Wine Detective
Sarah Ahmed is a UK-based wine writer, blogger, educator and judge, specialising in the wines of Australia and Portugal. As well as publishing her own blog, The Wine Detective, she also writes for numerous publications and has contributed to many leading wine reference books. Sarah started her wine career with wine merchant Oddbins in 2000, managing their flagship Fine Wine Store in London between 2003 and 2005, before striking out on her own with writing and in education. Sarah was awarded ‘Honorary Australian Woman in Wine’ at the Australian Women in Wine Awards 2017.