Sam Wigan appointed Hill-Smith family estates’ head of winemaking

Sam Wigan. Image courtesy Hill-Smith family Estates

On Friday, Hill-Smith Family Estates announced the appointment of Sam Wigan as the new head of winemaking ahead of the 2024 vintage, succeeding Louisa Rose. Wigan has worked for the Hill-Smith family for 22 years and is known for his work with Barossa Grenache, Riesling and Shiraz, as well as more experimental projects with Grenache Blanc, Albariño and Tempranillo.

Barossa-born into a winemaking family, Wigan completed his first vintage in 2000 at Peter Lehmann Wines before travelling to Sonoma Valley for the Northern Hemisphere vintage. The following year, he commenced a traineeship at Yalumba in Barossa and concurrently studied oenology at Charles Sturt University.

Wigan has since expanded his mastery by working vintages in Marlborough, Rioja and Beaujolais.

Fifth generation and chair Robert Hill-Smith looks to the future with excitement.

“Louisa Rose has mentored and led a strong winemaking team, and now under a new leader in Sam Wigan, we have the chance to showcase and express those experiences in a very tangible and exciting way as the 2024 harvest looms,” said Hill-Smith.

“Sam has shown excellence in his craft and embraces the balance of tradition with innovation across our folio.”

“It is a challenging but exciting time. We have a strong, intelligent team with diverse thinking and a strong belief in crafting fine wine with personality and expression of place. This is the time to grasp the opportunity for excellence,” said Hill-Smith.

On his appointment, Wigan expressed his enthusiasm to be entrusted with custodianship of the collection of iconic wine brands.

“I have always been deeply passionate and excited by wine,” said Wigan. “Whether it’s New World wines from our backyard or great wines of the Old World.”

“There’s an innate respect for tradition and terroir, but also great appreciation for the wines and the philosophy that have come from exceptional mentorship from Louisa Rose.”

“Equally, I’m driven by our propensity to innovate, which the Hill-Smith family has advocated for generations and always encourages in their people.”

“We have an outstanding team, energy in spades, and the support of the Hill-Smith family with a firm vision for their future generations. That’s a unique position, and I’m privileged to have a hand in preserving and evolving that legacy,” says Wigan.

As Wigan takes over the reins as Head of Winemaking, Louisa Rose will continue with HSFE in a new leadership role, supporting the wine, sales and marketing teams as Head of Sustainability and Brand Ambassador.


Louisa Rose. Image courtesy Hill-Smith Family Estates


Rose has worked for the Hill-Smith family since 1992 and was appointed head of winemaking in 2006, where she has devotedly embedded her philosophy of fine wine, innovation and sustainability within the HSFE winemaking team and broader business.

Rose’s community-minded approach has rewarded the global wine industry through her decades of championing Australian wine around the world. She has served as a voice on wine show committees and industry boards, including the Australian Wine Research Institute and the Barossa Grape and Wine Association (BGWA) and has been named Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller WINE, International Women in Wine, The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology, and voted best winemaker in Australia by 100 of her peers – winemakers, sommeliers and wine buyers.

On passing the baton to Wigan, Rose shared, “To have talent and leadership of Sam’s calibre come through our ranks has filled us with confidence and opportunity.”

“Sam’s enthusiasm for fine wine, his technical precision, and his natural charisma place the team in great hands for the future.”

“It has been a pleasure working alongside Sam for 22 years; we still have many years working together ahead of us,” said Rose.

In anticipation of commencing her new position, Rose pressed the need for strong industry leadership.

“What our industry needs right now are united leaders that relentlessly advocate for the future of Australian wine – whether that’s supporting the trade and political agenda, lobbying for industry and government action, driving research and innovation with pace, or strengthening our roadmaps to carbon neutrality, and finding balance across all matters of ESG.

“We are fortunate to be able to listen and provide a voice on behalf of many. It’s what I look forward to most in this next role,” said Rose.

Hill-Smith reflects on his family journey, “You do not survive in this business for six generations without a constant eye on the future. We have been through turbulent times before and it can be difficult to see the horizon amongst the waves, but we have engrained forward-thinking in our team.”

“With great wine at the core of what we do, and Louisa Rose helming sustainability and innovation, our family feels a genuine sense of excitement for the future.”

Wigan and Rose will assume their respective positions from 5 December 2023.

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