Chatto doubles-up wine chief role

Jim Chatto (Photo: Chatto Wines)

How many bottles can one winemaker juggle? Jim Chatto is fast becoming the Michel Rolland of Australia. He now has two chief winemaker roles, three if you count his own micro-boutique brand, Chatto Wines in Tasmania’s Huon Valley. Chatto recently took on the chief winemaker role at Kreglinger/Pipers Brook Vineyard in addition to that of McWilliam’s Wines, where he’s been for several years.

McWilliam’s Wines and Kreglinger took the most unusual step of making a joint announcement for what they called an ‘unprecedented’ move.

“Kreglinger Wine Estates and McWilliam’s Wines Group has announced the naming of Jim Chatto as chief winemaker for both companies,” its press release began.

Pipers Brook Vineyard has been underperforming for some years and its last chief winemaker Rene Bezemer retired for health reasons. Since then, a suite of big-name winemakers has been helping out, with ex-Jansz bubble specialist Natalie Fryar announced last October as the company’s new sparkling winemaker.

The release continued:

“Jim will oversee the portfolios of both Kreglinger Wine Estates and McWilliam’s Wines Group where he will bring his 25 years of winemaking experience to provide stylistic direction, blending and strategic guidance.”

The role involves overseeing the entire Kreglinger portfolio: Norfolk Rise from South Australia and the Tasmanian portfolio of Ninth Island, Pipers Brook and Kreglinger sparkling. He will also continue to be involved with, and oversee, the McWilliam’s Wines Group portfolio including working closely with the team at Mount Pleasant and developing the McWilliam’s premium collections.

The move suits Chatto in every way, since he moved with his wife Daisy and two young children from the Hunter Valley to live on their vineyard in Tassie’s Huon Valley. Tassie and pinot noir are his newest passions.

Chatto is also a senior wine show judge with over 20 years experience across both regional and capital city shows. He is current chairman of judges at the National Wine Show of Australia, Canberra. In 2009 he was named Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year, and in 2010 was a Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine Winemaker of the Year finalist. He is a former Len Evans Tutorial Scholar.

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