About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the summer series of winemaker interviews.

Michael Fragos joined Chapel Hill in February 2004, instantly he became an invaluable addition to the winemaking team. Michael was named Winestate Magazine's Winemaker of the Year in December 2003. After not wishing to become a teacher, Michael completed a graduate diploma course in Oenology at Roseworthy Agricultural. Michael has an enviable reputation as an outstanding winemaker and is well known in the international winemaking arena as a hard working winemaker. In 2007 he received the title of 'Winemaker of the Year' at the London International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).


Michael and the team have achieved a lot since winning this accolade, not least of which is the 2010 McLaren Vale Bushing King, awarded to the maker of McLaren Vale's top wine in that year. He is in fact one of only two winemakers to have won the award 3 times in the awards 40 year history. Michael strives for wines to express individual vineyard sites, whilst harnessing the passion, energy and commitment of all involved from the vineyards through to the cellar. It is clear for all to see and enjoy in every wine that Michael and his team carefully craft. I have had the pleasure to see the development in his wines over a number of years now, and even receiving barrel samples of future wines always has my taste buds on the alert with anticipation.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
I grew up on a vineyard in McLaren Vale and enjoyed the annual ritual of making a barrel of our “house” wine. Always loved the food and wine connection.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
Roseworthy College in South Australia: 1989

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
Old Vine Grenache, it is such a privelege to be able to interpret the personality and character of these vines that were planted in the 1920’s.


Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
Actually we are not currently pursuing any new varieties, instead focussing on articulating the unique charactaristics of our vineyards.

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
The fact that they are all different is invigorating. We need to celebrate our vintage variation more and ensure that the wines capture and confidently tell the vintage story.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
It had to be my first vintage in 1990, I had the technical knowledge but no practical experience and I was thrown into the deep end when the assistant winemaker walked out on the day before we received our first grapes. It was also the vintage that taught me to swear in Greek.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
Drew Noon, don’t get caught up with the hype and work hard.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
Just missed out on meeting both my grand fathers, I would have loved to have received some of their wisdom.


If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you - what would it be and why?
If it was with Marianne it would be a Nebuchadnezzar of 1985 Krug, if it was by myself then it would be the largest bottle of single malt whisky I could possibly find.

If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
I have promised my family that we will one day spend a couple of months living in a villa in a quaint Italian village, whilst I partake in a leasurely vintage in a small winery owned by a warm and embracing family who love cooking and entertaining.

What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
Attention to detail is imperative, once you get this right you can then learn to trust yourself and your grapes.

If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?
I am a music nut, so a music journalist for a reputable international magazine would be nice. In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
Always seeking more complexity and intrigue in our wines, whilst ensuring that we always preserve the purity of fruit. As above, learning to trust instincts and the vineyard sites which results in less winemaking “interference” and ultimately achieving full expression of the unique grape characters.

Chapel Hill Wines are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants. Or visit their website: Chapel Hill Wines

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