Enjoying an elegant, cool climate wine is far from a challenge, yet making one is a completely different story. Greg Clack, winemaker for Chain of Ponds, has dedicated a large part of his career to finessing this style throughout the McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills. We were lucky enough to get to chat with him about this, as well as Vintage 21, selling wine and Cheetos.
What led you to becoming a winemaker, and more specifically working with cool climate varietals?
Making wine for a living- is there any better reason to become a winemaker? That, and the fact it is one of the few professions combining scientific knowledge and artistic flair .
While working in McLaren Vale I was lucky enough to work with a number of brands across most regions in South Australia. I was constantly impressed with the elegance and suitability of cool climate wines to our food culture and climate, leading to a focus on these purely out of enjoyment.
Established in 1985, Chain of Ponds was the first major planting of any note in the northern area of the Adelaide Hills Wine region. What’s it like working in a winery with such a rich history, and being part of its evolution?
It’s amazing to think how far the Adelaide Hills has come in such a short time to be recognised nationally and globally as one of the exciting wine movements in the pursuit of quality wine. To work with a brand with history in what is a relatively new wine region is very motivating and gratifying.
I’ve heard you have some unusual wine and food pairings, what’s a couple you have come across recently?
Sauvignon Blanc and Cheetos – just something about that fluro orange flavouring coating your mouth and balancing the acid line perfectly.
What gets people excited about Chain of Ponds wine?
“Once it hits your lips, it’s so good”
If a bottle of Chain of Ponds wine could speak, what would it say?
I bet you can’t just have one
What do you think the future of customer engagement will be for the wine industry?
Experiences revolving around wine but not centred on wine, and the general evolution or devolution to word of mouth advertising via digital platforms.
What impact would being able to know where each bottle of wine goes after it leaves the warehouse, have on Chain of Ponds and the wider wine industry?
This would allow Chain of Ponds and the industry be better positioned to engage directly with the end consumer and provide a better wholistic customer experience.
What’s your approach to educating the retailers and restaurants selling your wine?
As good as Zoom meetings, emails and phone calls are and have allowed us to progress through interesting times, it is still physical interaction and tasting that provides the best long term results. There is nothing better than meeting the person that makes the wine, or seeing the vineyards they come from. This also works in reverse in personally knowing the person positioning our wines in the restaurants, bars and bottle shops.
What’s your favourite memory from Vintage 2021?
There are the usual memories that involve the first crush and last pick, which typically means we can stop constantly wearing out the screen where the weather app is located. Or alternatively the many knock off beers also provide many great memories.
The best thing about 2021 was seeing the growers affected by the fires going into the 2020 vintage finally seeing some positives with good yields and quality fruit being harvested from their fire damaged vineyards.