Making wine takes many hands - Cellar Hands. In 2019 we gained a few new young guns for the winery, eager to get their hands dirty! Caroline Scappatura, an Adelaide hills local with a tiny family winery Travellers' Rest, also gaining experience doing vintages at Jacob's Creek, and Megan Hume, who moved over from Perth after working at Little Creatures. As is tradition, the Cellar Hand series returns with Meg and Caro trying their hands at a wine of their own! We sat down and had a candid chat about the trails and tribulations of making your first wine, over a tried and true Unico rite of passage - peeling lemons for limoncello. Not hard to pry much from these guys!
Caroline Scappatura and Megan Hume
and the fruits of their labor
Noah Ward: How was vintage for 2019?
Megan Hume: Busy (laughing) - it was lots of fun! It was quite condensed so i’ve heard. First vintage for me so I don’t have anything I can relate it to. It was as hectic as the majority of my Saturday Night solo bar shifts, pumping out orders for the restaurant and the people in front of you - brain definitely on auto-pilot.
Caroline Scappatura: It was a big learning experience, seeing the ins and outs of grapes, yeasts - seeing the whole collective part of making wine rather than one little skinny part of it.
MH: Yeah the little details of making good wine that allows you to be low intervention versus having to put a winemakers style into it - making sure you get things without air, without oxidising too much, getting the juice pressed when we wanted to - that was pretty interesting. Especially following up baumés and that sort of thing every day, I found that pretty cool.
CS: I definitely wanna record in a diary of what’s going on a lot more next year. That was the biggest learning experience - the chaos.
I don’t remember what happened in between the chaos of trying to get shit done.
I’m understanding the wines a bit more this year, hopefully we can orchestrate it a bit smoother!
MH: I think we both kept a cool head through the majority of the chaos which was pretty good. There was a couple of times where i was like “I’m just going to walk away from this situation here cause i don’t know how to fix it.”
CS: Like a crazy ferment - just gotta let it do it’s thing!
MH: That - and also while we’re processing the juice itself, and like the couple days where it wasn’t doing what we want it to, the pump wasn’t doing what we want it to - and the mucking around with the press! (laughing). Wild times.
MH: Yup - Persistence, Perseverance, Initiative and Calmness. I think if you’re a stress head you should not do vintage.
If you’re someone who can take a step back, breathe, and look at things a different way - you’re definitely someone who can handle vintage.
NW: Caroline - How was it transitioning from somewhere like Jacob’s Creek to here?
CS: It was cool seeing the scope of what a little winery does. Winemaking can be similar on the whole but being a part of every process - the attitude was really different cause there is a lot more innovation here, there is a lot more playing around - it was a lot more stick to the rule book in an industrialised winery. I don’t think I could go back to something like that unless I wanted to make a quick 20-30 grand! (all laughing).
MH: Quick cash, not love.
NW: How was making your own wine? Achieving your own goals?
MH: (laughing) You mean the first one or the second one?
CS: We had a ton of our Negro Amaro that we had our hearts set on - unfortunately it picked up VA (volatile acidity). We waited patiently for it to disperse a little but it didn’t - it just stayed tasting like balsamic vinegar. We were unable to blend it with anything. So we had some Sauvignon Blanc grapes come in that we got excited about cause we had something else to play around with and left it on skins for about 2 weeks.
MH: Left on skins for a while, plunged twice daily.
CS: It was exciting! The day that we crushed it, we’d done the Nero.
We were originally just going to do a skinsy Savvy and it was a bit of a split decision to chuck it on top of Nero - that was a bit of fun!
MH: We had no idea what the hell was going to happen to it. We just did it and it came out this amazing purply-pink colour - it picked up the colour from the Nero, and heaps of tannins as well!
CS: It came out this dark rosé colour.
MH: It was awesome - almost like a darker pomegranate. It was pretty cool. It brought along some tannins, some of the colour, obviously not all of it, and a little bit of the berry flavour. It cut me when we had to use the Savvy B - I was very glad we got to use the Savvy B, and very glad we got the opportunity to make the Cellar Hand wine. Super grateful for that. But man - I just don’t like Savvy B.
THIS doesn’t taste like Sauvignon Blanc! Not your average Sav - taken on some tannic, skinsy lifeforms - it’s a good number.
CS: We bottled it about a month ago now and when we tasted it before we put it into bottle it was funky. It was pretty girthy (laughing).
MH: It’s cleaned up.
CS: A lot can happen in bottle.
MH: It was also pretty surprising because none of us knew how alcoholic it was before we took a sip - woah! (laughing).
NW: Happy with the results?
MH: Yup. Pretty happy. Proud. First wine made. Still gonna call it the first wine made (laughing). First wine bottled. Pretty proud.
CS: Considering we didn’t have a lot of winemaking decision experience, just kinda rolling with it, i think it turned out pretty cool. And seeing how all the other amazing wines are made here gives you a bit of intel.
NW: What would you do next year?
CS: If we could pick any variety? I’d almost wanna say a Chenin [Blanc], but I don’t even think we could get a Chenin?
NW: That’s my grape! If I got to do Cellar Hand series that’d be mine.
CS: Maybe like a Montepulciano? Lighter style red. I want to do a red.
MH: I think i'd stick to something more popular like a Sangiovese, although I did have a really, really yummy bottle of the driest Cab Franc. Yeah, that’s one. But a Malbec/Sangiovese blend could be pretty cool. I dunno what i’d do to it. Classic red really - just a ballsy red. One you’re really gonna feel the next day (laughing).