Marnie Roberts is the Production Winemaker at the Clare Valley’s award-winning and critically acclaimed Kirrihill Wines. She was brought up on her parents fruit block in Mildura and got to know about working with grapes when they pulled out their fruit trees and planted grape vines.
She’s traveled around with her winemaking skills and five years ago was asked to go to the Clare Valley for a vintage – a wine pairing exercise that seems to have stuck!
When and where did you first enter the wine industry?
1996 was my first vintage and that was at Baronga Hill Winery in Sunraysia – they were doing about 75,000 tonnes so I went into bulk production. I actually studied at Charles Sturt University, but my education was very hands on and I learnt most of my skills on the job. I did lots of vintages and really enjoyed the work, was very happy getting discount wines and realized that this career path would give me the opportunity to travel so I made the decision to do this for a living.
What does your current role involve?
As Production Winemaker I find I seem to do a lot of HR, marketing, logistics and problem solving – people don’t realize how much of a role these things play in winemaking. I firmly believe that every winemaker should have at least a couple of vintages in a large bulk winery under their belts because the time management and problem solving skills you learn there are invaluable in a smaller winery.
What is the philosophy Kirrihill?
We aim to produce wines that truly reflect the Clare Valley and aim for clean, varietal driven wines that over-deliver for the price. We want the cabernet to look like cabernet, so we don’t over-oak it – all the work is done in the vineyard and as winemakers we just guide the fruit through. The Clare Valley is a fantastic growing region that produces brilliant fruit and we don’t need to fiddle with it.
What is your personal favourite from your range?
My favourite at the moment in the reds is our cabernet. It’s really distinctive and I think it is an under-rated hero and a great step in our range.
What are your favourite food/wine pairings?
I love Asian food, especially the cleanness of Vietnamese food which I think goes perfectly with our Rieslings – of course!
What is your favourite way to spend a Sunday?
I’m in the middle of moving house this weekend, so it certainly isn’t that! My mum is cooking a roast for me today and that is pretty much how I like to spend my weekends – with food, family and friends. Or just sitting on the couch doing nothing!
Flats or heels?
Flats, definitely – I’m into comfort these days.
If there was one thing you could tell the sisterhood of wine-lovers out there, what would that be?
Don’t be afraid to try anything – even if you can’t pronounce it, drink it! There are so many new styles and varieties coming out that are a worth trying. The new varietals like Fiano, Vermentino in the whites and Nebbiolo in the reds – try them all.
Marnie was interviewed by Amanda McInerney. You can read more from Amanda at her most fabulous South Australian based food blog, Lambs Ears and Honey. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @lambsearshoney.