Meet Kate Day – our Fabulous Lady of Wine from Willunga 100. She’s leading the “Grenache Revolution” and at The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society, we are following closely behind!
When, why and how did you first enter the wine industry?
I have had a passion for food and wine from a young age which was inspired by my parents who always encouraged us to try new and different things. It was also appealing to be able to “make” something and see the results of all your hard work. A finished product that is unique and captures that year in a bottle. A great way to timeline your life. To kick start my career I decided I needed to learn literally from the ground up. So I enrolled at Charles Sturt University to study a Bachelor of Science, Viticulture and then went on to Adelaide University to study Winemaking.
Where has your career taken you so far?
All over Australia and the world! I have worked in wineries in the Hunter Valley, Tasmania, Eden Valley, Nagambie, McLaren Vale, Mudgee, Burgundy, Marlborough, and California. I have also been fortunate enough to travel on marketing trips for Willunga 100 throughout Asia, Europe, and Canada. It really has been a fantastic career path in regards to travelling, having unique and sometimes bizarre experiences and meeting some real out-there characters!
How long have you been with Willunga 100, and what is the winemaking philosophy there?
I joined the Willunga 100 team in 2008 and have loved every minute of it. Our number one aim is to have fun and love what we do, and we hope this translates into the wines and the general feel of the brand. From a winemaking perspective we like to think of our style as “modern McLaren Vale.” We try to steer clear of the big oaky over ripe styles in preference for a more elegant, pure fruit style which is balanced and food friendly. To be honest, and for use of a better word basically make “non-wanky” easy drinking wines! Our passion is Grenache and leading the “Grenache Revival”. McLaren Vale has some of the oldest and most amazing dry grown Grenache bush vines in Australia and we are lucky enough to be custodians of some of this fruit. Grenache is a beautiful, sexy, versatile variety that when not allowed to become too over ripe and alcoholic, is spicy, savoury and delicious. A perfect food wine.
So, what’s with the funny name? Where does ‘Willunga 100’ come from?!
The term “HUNDRED” originates from late Saxon and Norman England. It was an administrative unit of government, meaning that 100+ households had to live in the area to qualify for its place on the map. Just as the McLaren Vale district was divided up into “100′s”, or small lots, we select our fruit from such parcels. Much of our best fruit comes from the area that once was the Hundred of Willunga. We like to also think of our growers as the families or households that make up the Hundreds – the driving force behind our wines. Other sub-regions we source from is the exceptional Blewitt Springs area which is synonymous for old vine Grenache, the Willunga Foot Hills, Seaview, Sellicks Hill and Clarendon. The Tree on our label is an old river red gum that towers over one of the vineyards.
What wines do you currently produce? And how and where can people find them?
Our current range includes the following:
- 2013 Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Grenache
- 2013 Willunga 100 McLaren The Hundred Grenache (Single vineyard, lees aged and unoaked)
- 2010 Willunga 100 McLaren The Tithing Grenache (Flagship wine only produced in exceptional years, limited quantity)
- 2014 Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Grenache Rose
- 2011 Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Shiraz
- 2012 Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Cabernet Shiraz
- 2012 Willunga 100 Adelaide Hills Viognier
- 2011 Willunga 100 Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris
Our wines are always available on our website www.willunga100.com and we encourage people to join our mail list as we always ensure that our loyal customers are the first to be offered pre-release wines and any specials throughout the year. We are what you’d call an “on-premise” and “independent-focused” brand, which means our wines are available in good independent wine merchants and in fabulous restaurants throughout Australia. They are not available in the big supermarket chains. We are a small boutique company that likes to similarly support the smaller wine stores and list in high end restaurants.
Do you have a current favourite amongst the wines you make?
This is like asking me who my favourite child is……..but yes I do have one (wine that is, not child!!). I really can’t go past the Willunga 100 Grenache. It’s luscious and juicy, full of raspberries, cherries and spice with a great savoury palate. It is, in my mind, a fantastic expression of McLaren Vale Grenache at an accessible price.
What’s so great about making wine in McLaren Vale?
Apart from the fact that McLaren Vale has some of the most fertile and ancient soil structures of any region I have worked in, to be honest it’s just a cool place to be. Not many wine districts can boast both sea and vines and McLaren Vale has that in spades. It has an eclectic mix of people who radiate local pride and even better, it has some awesome restaurants to boot. Willunga township hosts one of the counties’ best weekly farmers markets every Saturday morning which helps cement the eat and drink local mantra that so many in the district promote.
What is your absolute favourite wine and food pairing?
Another tough one, can I have two? I’d have to say Gewurztraminer with beautiful aromatic Thai food or the classic Grenache and pizza.
As a woman working in the wine industry, have you faced any particular challenges where your gender has ever been an issue?
Having to haul 3 inch hoses isn’t much fun. I tend to leave that one to the lads.
Flats or heels?
Heels…..I have a weakness for Jimmy Choo’s, but don’t tell my husband or it could end in divorce!
Beach or mountains?
Plan is to win lotto and be able to spend equal amounts of time at both.
Red or white?
Fizz! A girl can never drink enough Champagne.
What’s your number one wine tasting tip?
Don’t ever be embarrassed to try wines you can’t pronounce, these are usually the most exciting.
If there was one thing you could tell the sisterhood of wine-lovers out there, what would it be?
Have fun and drink more Grenache! Viva la Grenache!