Wine and cheese have an awful lot in ...
Nick Bruer is the Winemaking Planning Manager at Jacob's Creek's Rowland Flat winery as well as Richmond Grove. Nick kindly took some time out of his day to offer an insight into the life of a busy winemaker.
How long have you worked here?
What made you want to become a winemaker?
A love of food and wine, a love of food and wine chemistry, and a love of the “chemistry” which is created between food and wine!
Actually, growing up I was inspired by my parents’ keen interest in wine and accompanied them on visits to countless cellar doors across South Australia. Early experiments with wine from grapevines growing at home, although in some cases abject failures and/or literally explosive, were also quite successful at times.
Which winemakers do you most look up to and why?
Those whose talents are supplemented by years of hard work, intensive study and solid experience, and who are dedicated to their lifelong pursuit of making wines which people really want to drink, not just place on a pedestal.
Not only do I look up to winemakers – I also must give credit to some of the brilliant viticulturists and scientists I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with over the years. Some of the people who have influenced me are:
David Bruer – former Roseworthy Lecturer, winemaker and organic evangelist (and uncle)
Peter Leske – winemaker, colleague and former mentor at Australian Wine Research Institute
Pam Dunsford – winemaker, first female winemaker to graduate from Roseworthy
Peter Hoj – eminent biochemist and former director of Australian Wine Research Institute
Phil Laffer – a legend, always encouraging, generous yet humble
Malcolm Allen – Principal Lecturer, Oenology Dept, Charles Sturt University
Roger Boulton – Professor of Enology, UC Davis, champion of the role of chemical engineering in winemaking and of a scientific rigour for wine production
What, if anything, do you find stressful about your job?
There is a feeling often encountered during vintage when there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. Time is ticking away, the sun has long gone down, yet there are still heaps of tasks to tick off, phone calls to make, things to check. You need to know how to switch off at the end of a 16 hour day, which takes some practice, especially if the phone keeps ringing after you get home.
What wine are you proudest of?
Good question. A couple come to mind:
Temple Bruer 1999 Botrytis Riesling: it felt like I nurtured every berry, every yeast cell in the making of that wine. It eventually won a trophy.
Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz: I came on board with Jacob’s Creek very shortly after the launch of the Reserve range, and although I wasn’t there for the first vintage, I’ve been part of an enormous team effort to grow and make this wine since the early days. It’s very satisfying to be involved with a successful wine which continues to deliver great quality drinking at an affordable price, and which is accessible all around the world.
St Hugo 2010 Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mataro: another team effort, the culmination of many years of work both in the vineyard and in the winery. It was a privilege to have access to wonderful old vines of Barossa fruit, choosing the best blocks then carefully blending to maximise the synergy between the three different varieties, using stylistic cues from St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet as a template for a blend which ostensibly would appear to be vastly different but which still maintains St Hugo’s trademark power and elegance.
What is your favourite wine and why? What do you drink it with?
St Hugo Vetus Purum Barossa Shiraz 2010 – a selection of the best barrels from the best rows/section of the best/most interesting vineyard. A freakishly good wine, which I drink whenever I can (responsibly), and share with my best friends and loved ones. I would recommend savouring it with a slow-cooked roast lamb shoulder or eye fillet of beef.