By Fergal Gleeson
This year Margaret River has seven winemakers nominated in the Top 50 Young Guns of Wine Award, a competition recognising the talents of young winemakers. A great achievement for a wine region that produces just 3% of Australia’s wine. A testament that there’s plenty of innovation a wine region that’s now fifty one years old.
Two of those Margaret River winemakers, Nic Peterkin of LAS Vino and Kate Morgan of Ipso Facto Wines made it through to the final list of twelve. We spoke to them both.
Nic Peterkin- LAS Vino
Despite having winemaking in many branches of his family tree Nic Peterkin was initially disinclined to enter the wine industry. Nic’s grandparents Kevin and Dianne Cullen, were pioneers of the Margert River Wine Region and founded Cullen Wines. His Aunt Vanya Cullen is now the Chief Winemaker and Managing Director there. His father is Dr Michael Peterkin, founder of Pierro Wines, another of Margaret River’s best known wineries.
Why the reluctance? “When I was younger I never saw the beauty of the industry. To me it was hot days in the vineyard weeding and long nights in the winery cleaning floors,” Nic says.
His “return” to winemaking was sparked by travel. “Winemaking is an incredible career if you like to travel,” he says “You can travel all over the world making wine.”
Nic spent vintages working overseas in Portugal, the US and Mexico which have influenced his thinking on wine. “We all have the same aim,” he adds “To make incredibly tasty delicious wines that people savour. But the ways to achieve that goal are really diverse. Every winery and country does things differently. You take a little from each place you work and bring it home and apply it to what you do.”
Not surprising given his background, Nic rates family and friends as the biggest influence on his winemaking.
There are four wines currently available from LAS Vino: the Albino PNO Rosé which is a 90% Pinot 10% Chardonnay blend; the 2016 CBDB, Chenin Blanc with a dash of Viognier; the single vineyard 2017 Chardonnay and there’s The Pirate Blend 2016. This is dedicated to “the outlaws… who lust after life with gusto.” It’s a red table wine made from three Portuguese varieties more commonly found in ports which is referenced by the port shaped bottle.
However Nic’s wines are appreciated by more than salty sea dogs. Apart from the recent Young Guns nomination he was “Best Young Winemaker of the Year 2016” by influential wine magazine ‘Gourmet Traveller WINE’.
Nic initially thought about LAS Vino as a 3 year project but it’s taken on a life of it’s own.
“I didn’t realise when I started that it would take 3 years to actually sell the first vintage,” he says “So the project needed to be extended. I started LAS vino because I had a desire to create and at the time there was a lot of really good interesting fruit being left on the vine (due to a wine glut). Since then the market has changed a lot. Fruit prices have gone up and the mood is positive. I am really happy doing what I am doing. Initially, I thought that my family and friends would buy out of sympathy and that would be enough to keep it going. It has definitely exceeded expectations”
What’s an emerging trend he sees amongst young wine drinkers?
“People want a reflection of who they are in what they drink,” he says. “They don’t want mass produced crap. They want hand crafted wines with story and personality.”
When ask about future plans for LAS Vino Nic jokes “world domination”. The next step is the planned opening of a cellar door!
More at www.lasvino.com
This is a modified excerpt from an article that appeared in the spring edition of Your Margaret River Region Magazine. Photography by RYAN MURPHY .