Published on October 6, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour


Meet the Winemaker

Nothing beats a glass of your favourite wine, right? But, how often do you think about the winemaker behind your top tipple? 

Cheers caught up with one of Australia’s leading winemakers, Jo Nash from McPherson Wine Co in Victoria, to learn more about her, the winery and, most importantly, her wines.

Hi Jo, great to meet you. So, tell us a little more about McPherson Wines 

Our winery’s based Victoria, about 120km (77miles) from Melbourne and we’ve been making wine since 1968. We’re a family business founded by Jock McPherson and carried on by his son Andrew. The McPherson family is still very much part to our day-to-day running and we’ve named our Family Series wines after different members of the family including Jock right through to his great-granddaughters Aimee and Lucie.

How did you get into wine?

I guess it was from a curiosity of how one product can be so varied to make it loved by so many people with such different tastes.

Really it’s all about wondering how the same grape variety can create such different wines. For example, if you drink a Shiraz from France, it’s completely different to a Shiraz from Australia. The same with different regions, different climates and different growing techniques.

What is the one aspect of your job that might surprise people?

Winemaking is not about drinking wine all day.

You’ll be surprised how many people think we spend our days tasting wines and having long lunches. Don’t get me wrong, we do taste our wines to make sure the taste and quality is right, but years of hard work need to be done before we can get to this point.

What do you find is the hardest part of any harvest?

It would have to be the long hours and spending time away from my family.

Harvest can last anything from eight to 12 weeks, depending on the season, and we’ll usually work six or seven days per week, 12 – 14 hours per day. And, the winemaker is always on call, which could mean a call out during the middle of the night.

My husband’s also a winemaker, we support each other and our family during harvest time. Our four children love learning about the winemaking process, although it’s too busy for them to come to the winery during harvest.

What does a top winemaker drink at home?

I’ll usually reach for one of my wines, either the Sunburnt Chardonnay or the Bella McPherson Pinot Grigio. We drink these at home, they’re really nice and refreshing – our ‘five o clocker’ wines. And, of course, the pours get bigger on Fridays!

What’s the story behind the infamous Gary from your awesome ‘Don’t Tell Gary’ Shiraz? 

A few vintages back, I was approached by a neighbouring winemaker who had some spare Shiraz grapes he needed to sell. But, I’d spent my budget for that year so I declined and thought nothing of it.

A few months later the same winemaker called again offering the same grapes at a fraction of the cost. I didn’t have the budget for the grapes but knew they would be a steal at this price. So, myself and Michelle in our accounts team found a way to borrow the money from the next year’s budget but agreed we don’t tell Gary (Williams), our winery’s general manager.

Then I needed barrels to age the wine in, so Michelle and I sourced some ridiculously expensive French oak barrels, again agreeing we don’t tell Gary. Don’t Tell Gary or ‘DTG’ became our code name for the wine and it stuck. We then sought the creative help of Louise in Marketing and with her usual aplomb and minimal fuss created the Don’t tell Gary label.

Is that the real Gary on the bottle? 

No, he’s a lot grumpier! Only joking Gary.

I’ll let you decide if it’s really him or not…

McPherson Wines are available across the North East. Ask your local bar staff for more details.

About the Author

Alastair Gilmour

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