Winner of the Best Shiraz in Australia in 2010 - and quite possibly the nicest chap you'll ever meet
- Legend is a word we sometimes overuse, but in Sam's case, it's true. Over in Oz he’s regarded as one of their greatest living winemakers. Getting on for a thousand medals and trophies to his name, including the daddy of them all – the Best Shiraz in Australia Trophy at the 2010 Great Australian Shiraz Challenge.
- Yet if you met him, you’d probably mistake him for the gardener. He’s one of the most down-to-earth, approachable blokes you’ll ever meet. He wears a beat-up old hat and drives a beat-up old pick up, and when he’s not in the vineyard, you’re likely to find him up a ladder with a wrench in his hand.
- From being in a pretty sticky situation back in 2011 when he was unexpectedly bought-out by his business partner, Sam has just achieved his lifetime dream; he’s converted an old shoe factory into his very own gleaming high-tech winery and it’s all thanks to Angel funding!
Map of the Vineyard
Sam Plunkett's Story
"I am a largely self taught winemaker, with a trade qualification and not a wine science degree. Currently, I am a 'Master of Wine' student and hope to have a first attempt at the exam in June 2013.
My Dad (Alan Plunkett), first planted vines in 1968 - the year I was born. My first vintage was as a cellar hand in 1986 dragging hoses at Tisdalls' winery in Echuca. After studying economics at university I came home in 1991 to look after the emerging Plunkett wine business. I captained this business, Plunkett Wines, for 14 years before becoming Chief Winemaker at Plunkett Fowles in 2005. During my 6 years at Plunkett Fowles some thousand of tonnes were crushed and wine was sent around the world.
I now take great pleasure in working with my wife, Bronwyn Dunwoodie, in our new start business Wine by Sam, making wine from all around our home state (Victoria), and with a keen eye open to make a red wine which can live for 30 years from fruit grown on the family vineyard in the Strathbogie Ranges of Central Victoria.
There is a special satisfaction working with wine - it is alive. A lot of winemaking is unromantic hard work. But there is a creative element. I used to play a lot of music and there were moments when the band hit a groove and it all went up a level. In music or art I think those moments of creativity can pop out of nowhere. With wine the creativity is a long slow build. It can be quite an intellectual pursuit imagining a wine and then working with nature to gently nudge the wine in the direction you want to take it. But like when the band finds its groove, when it all comes together there can be that same sense of elevation and wonder as your senses drink it in. (Either that or I'm pissed!)
Wine is my hobby as well my job. It's often part of the dinner table conversation and it's my bedside reading. I've had the pleasure of working with my parents when I started making wine, and these days enjoy running the winery with my wife Bron. It is simply a part of our everyday life, the vineyards are our backyard, the winery is our workplace and at the end of the day there is a glass with dinner. Our children Edward (8) and Felix (11) helped leaf pluck a special parcel of Lagrein, (a northern Italian red variety) this year. They attempt to make a bottle of wine for Grandma each year and this vintage enjoyed foot stomping the Cabernet.
Bron (my better half) and I have leased a winery called 'Elgo' in the Strathbogie Ranges. Its about 10mins drive from home and our vineyard. Its a fantastic site and well set up to make high quality wine. I know the family that own the winery really well, and while its a commercial arrangement, they are being incredibly supportive while we get set-up. But you should know, that it was the support from Naked Wines asking if I'd like to make wine for you guys that has given me the confidence to say yes to taking on the winery and letting me do what I love - making wine.
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