UNCORKED: Sarah Crowe, showstopper
After earning near perfect scores for two Yarra Yering reds, Sarah Crowe was named the 2017 James Halliday Winemaker of the Year. Here she reveals what this recognition means to her.
What attracted you to a career in wine?
I love the organic nature of it - working with a living thing, created in nature, being outdoors sometimes at the mercy of the elements. Also working with something that continues to develop and evolve constantly.
What were some of the ideas or techniques that you introduced to Yarra Yering when you joined in 2013?
The winery here and the way it’s set up has actually taught me more about winemaking than me bringing in new ideas. It has made me go back to the drawing board in a way and understand new techniques and question my own ideas. On the other hand, I have come here without having an official handover where someone tells me how it’s always been done. In that respect I’m not trying to follow the Yarra Yering recipe but watch and respond to the season.
What has winning the 2017 James Halliday’s Winemaker of the Year Award meant to you?
There is no greater recognition of winemaking talent in Australia. On a personal level, James is the greatest living authority in Australia on the wines and history of Yarra Yering. To have this recognition from him is as good as it gets.
Who has been the biggest influence on you as a winemaker?
P.J. Charteris was the winemaker at Brokenwood who took me under his wing. He made me his assistant when he had many other more experienced options, gave me responsibility and trusted me to both fail and succeed.
Of all the wine that you have made, what is your favourite?
The 2015 Yarra Yering Dry Red Wine No.2, a Rhône-style blend made mostly from shiraz. It has a little bit of viognier, marsanne and mataró blended in for fragrance, texture and spice. The layers and complexity of the wine keep you intrigued each time you taste it.
In your opinion, how has the Australian wine industry changed or evolved over your career?
It really is hard to find bad wine in Australia today. I remember when I started wine show judging 10 years ago, you wouldn’t taste every wine, you could score it based on its aroma (meaning it was faulty). Today it is rare to find faulty wines, the overall quality is very strong. On the negative side, there are less positions available. When I started the industry was in rapid growth, profits were good, and everyone was winning. Since then, many businesses have become unprofitable, there is an imbalance in supply and demand and pressure on every business decision we make.
For further information, please visit yarrayering.com.