Wine Pro Wednesday

Winemaker Edition

Julian Grounds was appointed Chief Winemaker at Craggy Range beginning in 2019. Grounds brings over 10 years of winemaking industry experience, as he previously was Senior Winemaker at Giant Steps in the Yarra Valley of Australian and Chief Winemaker at McHenry Hohnen in Margaret River.

Originally from Western Australia, Julian was named Dux of the 2017 Len Evans Tutorial, one of Australia’s most prestigious wine industry accolades, and Dux of Viticulture and Oenology at Curtain University, where he won the Leeuwin/Talijancich award for future leadership. Upon graduating, Julian worked at Leeuwin Estate before heading to Central Otago to work on the 2010 vintage, followed by two vintages at Oregon’s Ponzi Vineyards.

Julian’s interest and enthusiasm for contributing to the constant evolution of wine, together with his desire to help consumers understand and enjoy what they are drinking, make him an outstanding fit for Craggy Range’s diverse portfolio of single-vineyard, terroir-driven wines. “I’m inspired by the experiences great wines create for those that consume them,” says Grounds. “Great wines are great stories. They are both reflections of land and insight into the human mindset. When the balance between our innate agricultural abilities and the creativity of the human spirit is perfectly aligned, we capture pieces of history.”

1. How or why did you become a winemaker?

It’s a path I followed immediately after finishing school in rural Western Australia. A combination of coming from a farming family, a lover of all the processes that growing grapes and making wine encompassed, and the location of the university being in a world-renowned surf town (Margaret River) all played their part in beginning my path.

2. What are the most frustrating and rewarding parts of making wine?

Probably more so anguish than frustration is that we need to wait an entire year for the next vintage if you feel that you missed an opportunity to explore a certain section of the vineyard or style through the vintage. I look at chefs and their chance to try again the following service for perfection with occasional jealousy. 

Rewarding; there are many parts that are rewarding. To pick one, drinking a release that you know you’ve poured your soul into with a friend from the industry and seeing genuine enjoyment on their face. That feeling is worth more than 100 point scores.

3. What is your most memorable vintage?

The 2019 vintage: My first vintage at Craggy Range and a truly magnificent vintage conditions-wise. The aligning of the two was an absolute dream.

Giants Winery, Craggy Range, New Zealand
Craggy Range's Giants Winery in New Zealand

4. What is an upcoming trend you see in wine?

Without a doubt the expectations on us all as producers to be actively sustainable has increased ten-fold in recent times. We know our resources such as water and fertile land are precious and require nurturing and respect. It’s the best trend we could have hoped for as an industry.

5. What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?

There’s always more that can be done. Enjoy your wins when they come but never be satisfied that you’ve done enough.

Julian Grounds, Winemaker at Craggy Range

Julian Grounds, Winemaker

Craggy Range Winery

"Enjoy your wins when they come but never be satisfied that you’ve done enough."

6. What is one tip you have for someone who is interested in winemaking?

Try as many diverse wines as possible and talk to the people with experience. There are so many great minds in our industry with decades of experience. Seek them out. Listen. Outside of that, when the world allows it, TRAVEL!

7. What do you drink at home?

Pinot Noir generally is the house pour. Whether it be from our Te Muna Vineyard in Martinborough, the greater NZ, or overseas such as Oregon, Yarra Valley, or Burgundy, it will never get turned down in our house. A sneaky gin and tonic in summer also generally a great hit.

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