July 23, 2020

Weekly Crush: Tarrant Hansen, Spider Bill Wines

By Angela Oemcke

Meet this weeks #WeeklyCrush the quick-witted Tarrant Hansen, super-dad/winemaker and director of Spider Bill Wines, known for producing delicious small batch wine from premium parcels in the Adelaide Hills. Tarrant has traveled all over the world studying the art of wine making, where he discovered his passion for Italian styles before setting up with his wife in the Adelaide Hills. things wine making, Spider Bill, Young Gun of Wine, Nebbiolo, wine lists, growing a fan base, family, the Adelaide Hills beyond vineyards and more.

To find out more about Spider Bill Wines visit their website, and pick up a bottle from their online shop to find out why after having a glass of Spider Bill at a restaurant so many people go to hunt down the rest of their range. Stay in the loop on all things Spider Bill via their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

So Tarrant, you started up in Medical Science and then took an unconventional turn from this field and dove head first into wine making, travelled the world mastering the craft before returning home to work the regions and eventually start your own label. Tell us a bit about this journey, particularly any highlights or pivotal moments that led you to establishing Spider Bill Wines. Also, where does the name Spider Bill come from?

In hindsight, I had an early career crisis and realised that full time science was just not for me.  Staring down the barrel of a phd and working in a tuberculosis laboratory I had the inkling I should be doing something else with my life.  My wife and I picked up our very new lives together and moved to Adelaide so I could pursue wine making.  When making the decision on where to live in South Australia, we googled “where is good to live near Adelaide” and thankfully landed on the Adelaide Hills.  10 years on from our big move we have not looked back. 

From a wine making perspective I have been incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to complete a number of overseas vintages, in New Zealand, Italy and South Africa.  My love of Italian varieties was solidified in Langhe.  Every country I have visited has given me both technical skills and knowledge as well as a network of close knit friends. 

Starting my own label let me pursue the varieties that excite me and helped me put down roots in my local community. The label name was chosen for the nickname my grandfather gave me as a child.  A play on my name Tarrant 🡪 Tarantula 🡪 Spider.  William 🡪 Bill.  It seemed to make him laugh for his ingenuity and I love I can continue it on in this way. 

So you are a contender for Young Guns of Wine! Tell us how you got into Young Guns, how the virtual tastings have been and your favourite part of the experience so far.

I’ve been a part of YGOW for the past couple of years.  Obviously, things are a bit different this year with the new restrictions.  One of the best parts about YGOW is the connection that I make with both other producers and people that are new to my label.  South Australian’s may have come across my wine before, but it’s been a great experience to introduce it to other states.  I get to represent the Adelaide Hills on a wider stage and that is always such a privilege. I think we’re all getting used to doing things virtually these days so why not wine tasting! 

Being a new wine brand, how have you gone about building the Spider Bill fan base?

It’s been a fairly organic process.  I try and focus on making great wine in the styles that I am passionate about.  Eventually that led to a local and interstate distributor.  I think people are most exposed to my brand at the large number of restaurants and bars that have it listed.  From there they seek out my other varieties.  I’m proud to be a part of a network of cellars, restaurants and bars that try to highlight amazing locally made wine and produce.  

On the Wine Market…We asked Tarrant to shed some light on his experience in the wine market, as a big part of what we do at Cellr is make true direct to consumer marketing easy for producers. Find out more here

What channels do you use to engage customers to buy your wine? What do you do in these channels? 

Vinify Wine Co., my distributor is the key to getting my wine tasted by customers.  Christian, the director, is as much a champion of my wine as I am.  My Italian varieties are the reason I was taken on board his portfolio.  Through this large distribution channel my wine is available to a much wider audience.  

My website and Instagram page allows consumers to directly engage with me after their first exposure.  It is always a balance to make sure I have enough wine available directly for consumers and balancing the commitment I have to the bars and restaurants that have supported me. 

In what ways do you feel it is challenging to engage with customers?

It has been a bit of trial and error to find the right balance and types of tasting events, wine shows and other direct to consumer experiences.  Wine tasting events do not always attract people who love wine as much as I do.  Larger events don’t allow me to engage as much with customers as I would like.  

Building a solid brand loyalty is the aim for lots of producers.  We get consistency in sales and they get a quality product from a producer they feel they know.  

What has been your favourite photo from V20 and what is the story behind it? 

V20 was an interesting one for me.  Shortly after the bush fires we welcomed our third child to the family.  My children have a knack of entering the world in the middle of vintage time.  We got to celebrate his arrival and also our move to the property we are planting our new vineyard.  We hope this is the first of many vintages here.  

I read that you are a big fan of the Nebbiolo varietal after a stint in Italy learning how it is traditionally crafted by winemakers. How have you adapted the skills you learnt into the Australian grown Nebbiolo you make? What are a couple of your favourite Australian Nebbiolos (including at least one South Australian brand). 

Nebbiolo is definitely one of the most important varieties to me. One of the biggest lessons I learnt in Italy is that vineyard management is key to crafting Nebbiolo.  I use a number of traditional techniques when I make Nebbiolo including the use of very old oak and some parcels of Nebbiolo spending extended time on skins post ferment. Some of my favourite Australian Nebbiolo’s to drink are the Ravensworth Hilltops Nebbiolo and Lino Ramble Knuckle Bones. 

What inspires you the most?

The Adelaide Hills Region is an extraordinarily inspiring place to make wine.  Not only the topography and terroir but the people.  The community spirit was on display after the recent bushfires and COVID shut down.  As a producer I feel the community has my back and I hope in turn to continue to represent the region well.   

On Authentication and Supply Chains: We asked Tarrant about his views on authentication and her current supply chain management. At Cellr we want to understand how producers feel about the current systems in place and make a packaging solution that is consistent with what they need. Find out what we do for brand protection and supply chain track and trace.

Talk to us about your supply chain, do you currently have visibility of your products after they leave the winery? What impact would having detailed data showing you where (in the world) and when your wine is being opened by the consumer?

I have a simple supply chain.  I produce, consumers drink.  As little handling in between as possible.  I am a small producer and as long as I know my wine is being enjoyed widely I am happy. 

With the global explosion of wine fraud pushing into the mid/premium brackets due to sheer volume, how important is it for wine consumers to be able to identify your (legitimate) products via anti-counterfeit measures?

As I don’t have an international market for my wines this is probably not of the highest importance to my brand.

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