“The first day I’m not excited about the first grapes (of the season) will be my last day of vintage… and that will probably be when I die.”
Those are the words of fourth generation winemaker and managing director of Tyrrells Wines, Bruce Tyrrell.
Despite decades in the wine industry, Vintage still excites him as much now as it did when he first stepped foot into the family business.
Formally Joining Tyrrell’s Wines at age 23, Bruce has lived through the highs and lows of many memorable vintages and this year is no exception.
“I’m very happy with how this year’s Vintage has gone so far,” he said.
“It’s been a trouble-free vintage and just about everything has gone to plan. We’re all very relaxed.”
While it’s been a relaxing ride so far, it doesn’t make the process any less difficult.
With the Hunter Valley reaching 39 degrees Celsius by some lunchtimes, to Bruce timing is everything.
“In relation to the wine… the most important part is the day that you pick it,” he said.
“When we start vintage depends on a lot of things. It depends on the condition of the fruit and of the vineyard, along with the climate.”
“The chemistry between the two is also important because we want the best flavoured grapes you can have so people will drink it,” he said.
Between 65 to 70 pickers will be at Tyrrell’s vineyard for 2019 vintage, which is currently underway in Pokolbin.
“The days are dictated by the weather. Sometimes we can stop picking by 2pm and other days it’s 11am… it depends really,” Bruce said.
“We have to treat (the pickers) right to make sure they want to come back tomorrow.”
This year, Bruce’s role mainly involves liaising between the vineyard and the winery, particularly to winemaker son Chris.
Youngest of three children, Chris along with siblings Jane & John all work in the family business.
“I’m so proud (of my children), that’s what it’s all about. I would have retired long ago if it wasn’t for my kids being here,” said Bruce.
It’s the family surroundings and passion for wine that’s kept Bruce coming back for more every year.
“The special bit for Vintage is seeing the unique individual patches of vineyard bring out their own unique characters,” he said.
“It’s my favourite time of year.”
As for his favourite vintage?
“2020! Always looking to the future.”