Meet Gwyn Olsen of Pepper Tree Wines
From winemaking in France and indulging in all the cheeses, to her love for a glass of Shiraz Pinot Noir matched with the humble Pluto Pup; it’s time to meet Gwyn Olsen, Head Winemaker at Pepper Tree Wines.
How did you get involved in the wine industry?
I decided to pursue a winemaking career once I had finished my biochemistry degree. When I finished my studies at The University of Adelaide, I landed my first job cleaning tanks and floors in a winery in France.
How did you find working in France?
I loved it! It is always a great experience working in France, as they have such a different work culture to here in Australia. To be able to experience the rich winemaking history first hand in regions such as St Emillion and Burgundy, and to see the new age winemaking in the Languedoc was a great way to diversify my experience and to understand the art to winemaking. Whilst eating ALL the pastries and cheeses.
With such an extensive and impressive work history, what would you say was your favourite experience, and why?
That is a tough one! My first ever vintage, in France, sticks in my mind as it was such a great experience. Staying at the winery, working with a range of different varieties all while trying to learn French to be able to communicate with the other staff – it was mind blowing. I had a 1980 VW Golf to drive around on weekends and was given a weekly wine allowance in litres, which I could draw off any tank in the winery. It was magic!
What has been your proudest moment as a winemaker?
Most recently, it has been launching Pepper Tree Wines new flagship wine – the PJP Single Vineyard Wrattonbully Cabernet Sauvignon. It was made by selecting the ten best barrels of Cabernet off the Wrattonbully vineyard and I think it’s a great example of what the vineyard can produce in terms of quality of fruit and what the region can do when it is made to shine.
What sets Pepper Tree apart from other winemakers you have worked for?
How nimble it is and how willing John Davis (Managing Director of Pepper Tree Wines) is to try new varieties and wine styles. Every year we come up with new varieties to plant and new styles of wine to make, and it is a lot of fun.
You’ve got a long list of awards and accolades under your belt. Which ones would you say you’re most proud of?
Being named Gourmet Traveller WINE ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ 2014. I had just started a new job and it was such a great accolade to receive. It helped solidify my self-belief and ability to trust my ability and back myself.
What is the best thing about working in the wine industry?
The variation of the seasons and the communities in the different regions. It keeps every year interesting with dealing with the different weather patterns whilst trying to make the best wine possible. And the wine industry has a lot of great people in it – regardless of what region you are making wine in.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given when it comes to winemaking?
Work hard and don’t be afraid to try new things – trust your gut!
If you could craft one varietal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Chardonnay! Mainly because I love drinking it, but it is also an exceptionally versatile grape which you can make into a variety of different wine styles.
Do you have any plans to open your own vineyard one day?
What’s your favourite wine of all time?
Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru.
What’s your favourite food and wine match?
Hunter Valley Shiraz Pinot Noir and a dagwood dog (Pluto Pup).
What is your favourite…
Television show? Death in Paradise.
Takeaway dish? Pan-fried kwai teoh chilli from Paul’s Asian Affair in Newcastle.
Outdoor activity? Running! I seriously love to run.
Animal? My loyal hound, Spencer. Or Sea Dragons.