Jack Tomich is the “Jack of All Trades” for Tomich Wines. If there is a job to do, he gets it done. We caught up with Jack in the peak of their 2022 vintage, just after the first lot of fruit came into their almost brand new winery. It was great timing too, Jack felt optimistic about the coming crush and was exuding enthusiasm.
The Tomich family has (until recently) been quietly making wine across the country for over 100 years. This began in the prime immigration areas of Mildura, before venturing to the Coonawarra with cattle and grapes, and then on to The Clare before settling in the (then up and coming) Adelaide Hills in 1998. This also coincided with Jack’s birth.
Consistently honing their craft and making wine they have recently (2021) built a new winery in Woodside, in the Adelaide Hills.
“We built the winery last year, and the vintage was a bit of a shambles, as everything was in the middle of construction. But now that it’s finished and I’ve been running everything, it’s all going smoothly. Having said that, we are now in the middle of a vineyard redevelopment; due to the bush fire damage we suffered during the Cudlee Creek fires. Luckily though the block that was damaged was nearing the end of its life cycle.”
A life cycle that Jack feels is almost on par with the changing tastes of wine consumers.
“Consumer tastes change, and they seem to change at the same sort of rate as the vines’ most productive years of the vine life cycle. 20 years ago SB and Chard were huge, so we had big plantings of them, but Pinot Noir is up 30% and so that’s what we are focussing on. Our main priority is Pinot.”
Tomich Wines’ passion for Pinot Noir is embodied by Randal Tomich, Jack’s father. Hearing Jack talk about his favourite grape he couldn’t help but add, “We’re going to be the Pinot Kings!” A statement that received a joking eye-roll from Jack, though he also admits to Pinot Noir being his ‘favourite child’ too.
It’s great to see the obvious close family relationship between Father and Son. Even though they work together for long hard hours, the power dynamic is pretty clear. Jack has a lot of respect for his dad, but Jack runs the show. With a business and innovation degree under his belt, he is currently studying Oenology/Wine Making full time while also working the vintage.
“It’s a good thing vintage is at night! I don’t recommend full-time study and working at the same time”
Looking at this year’s vintage Jack has mixed feelings, a sentiment he shares with many South Australian producers given the unusual weather during the growing season.
“This vintage is looking ok, yields are down in many blocks, some even by 50% … but the flavour is definitely there. You notice the yields by feel… where one row could fill a bin last year, this year it took around 4 rows.”
When asked about the Tomich Wines wine making approach Jack doesn’t hold back.
“We aim for perfect baume (sugar levels) and pH, working the pick times to get the right levels. We are looking for that happy medium so it has the structure, mouth feel and prettiness. Serious pinot, basically. We use cold soak ferments, whole bunch ferments, gross lees exposure and time on oak. We rack straight into new oak, giving the wine some sexiness. But at the end of the day Adelaide Hills Pinot is already pretty. There’s no reason to bang it around and beat it down with new oak. It’s better to Be gentle with the fruit and not overwork the wine.”
But it’s not all about winemaking for Jack, as our introduction alludes, with his background in business he also plays a hand in how Tomich Wines is run beyond the cellar walls.
“It really helps with the creativity and reality behind the work, it gives you a framework to shape the work flow and helps with out-of-the box thinking and what can we change to enhance the quality? It’s about the drive for constant improvement. At the end of the day Dad is a Farmer, he loves being out in the field and solving problems, he’s built this Brand and my role is to iron out all the kinks and help him nurture it into the future. I’ve got to get it to where he’s happy with it and by the time I have kids hopefully they’ll want to jump into it too.