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Rebecca Wilson, Tamar Valley, TAS
Name: Rebecca Wilson
Rebecca Wilson is owner/winemaker at Holm Oak Vineyards, Tamar Valley, Tasmania. Born on King Island, she graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Oenology) from the University of Adelaide in 1998. Rebecca has completed vintages in the Riverland, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and Napa Valley; plus positions as assistant winemaker with Killerby Vineyards in West Australia and winemaker at Capel Vale Wines, also in WA.
Which of your wines do you most enjoy making, and why?
Definitely Pinot Noir. Making Pinot is very challenging, but when you get it right it is incredibly rewarding. As well as expressing the unique terroir of a vineyard, I also think that Pinot is one of the best wines to express your own personality, whether it be lively and vibrant, dark and brooding or sexy and seductive.
Tell us about your most memorable wine-tasting experience…
A 1956 Marc Bredif Vouvray. An incredible wine for its age. Having said that nearly all of my wine tasting experiences are memorable. The amount of effort that goes into creating a single bottle of wine is incredible and I love enjoying the results of other people's hard work.
As a winemaker, what could you not do without - besides grapes, of course?
A good viticulturalist (but don't tell him/her).
What is the most important piece of equipment in your winery?
What styles or varieties do you see dominating wine production in Australia over the next 10 years?
I think cooler-climate styles such as Pinot Noir and Riesling will become increasingly popular due to their delicacy, elegance and finesse.
What main varieties do you think your region will be known for over the coming years?
Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sparkling.
Which non-traditional varieties interest you and why?
I love to drink all sorts of alternative varieties, from Moscato through to Tempranillo. However, the variety that I am most interested in at the moment is Arneis because we have just planted some.
How important is food and wine matching to you?
I love to cook and will often open several bottles of wine just to see which one matches the food the best. I think also the Australian culture is moving more toward a culture where wine is the beverage of choice when eating food. Therefore, I believe it is important that we make wines that match well with food rather than being overpowered by them.
Can you recall an unconventional yet successful food and wine match you've tasted?
Holm Oak Pinot with Atlantic Salmon and salsa verde.
What do you like to do when you're not making wine?
If money was no object, where would you choose to set up a vineyard and winery?
I love Tasmania, so I still think I would be where I am. Maybe on a larger scale and with a cabin tractor, a bottling line, a new peristaltic pump, more tanks, a new insulated storage shed……..
The famous 'ark' question: The world is about to flood, which two wines do you take onto the ark?
Arras Sparkling, Freycinet Pinot Noir.
What do you like to drink when you're not drinking wine?
Gin and tonic. Boag's beer.
If you weren't a winemaker, how would you be making a living?
I think I would be a vet.
Do you have any pet hates?
Not really. I am pretty easy-going.
What keeps you awake at night?
Rain on the roof during vintage.
Wild yeast or inoculated ferment?
Both have their place.
Cork or screwcap?
Screwcap (so far).
What do you admire most about the Australian wine industry?
The ability to work together to overcome problems and threats to our industry, and the willingness of people in the industry to provide advice and assistance when required.
What is the best piece of advice you could offer a person in their last year of winemaking study?
Do at least one southern hemisphere and one northern hemisphere vintage before trying to find a permanent position and make sure you watch, listen and learn.
Why did you become a winemaker?
When I was about 14 Dad planted some grapes on King Island. This first got me thinking about the idea of becoming a winemaker. I enjoyed chemistry and biology and wanted to be in some area associated with primary production, so I decided to give it a go. My family weren't really into wine, and when I went to Uni I really had no idea what was going on. However, once I got out into the workplace I absolutely fell in love with everything to do with wine and the wine industry.
Who has inspired you during the course of your career?
At each place I have worked there has been inspirational people. The ability of people who work in the wine industry (whether it be cellarhands or senior winemakers) to work together and overcome the myriad of problems encountered under stressful conditions is unbelievable.
Which area of current wine or vine research do you think is most beneficial to the industry?
There is a large project about to be undertaken in Tasmania which will be looking at Pinot Noir and Sparkling quality. From a personal point of view I find this the most beneficial. As an industry, closure research is still very important.
Is there an area of research towards which you would like to see more resources directed?
How to achieve maximum profitability from a 10-hectare vineyard whilst still having a life.
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