Andrew Cherry, Winemaker for Alkoomi Wines, Frankland River, Western Australia
Where were you born? Perth, Western Australia
Where do you live now? Alkoomi Wines, Frankland River
How did you get into the wine business? Started with a degree in chemistry and worked in hospitality throughout that time. This was followed by a three year trip around Europe and working in fine dining restaurants in Soho, London. Love of Chemistry plus a love of wine led me to a Post Graduate Diploma in Oenology at the University of Adelaide.
What is most and least rewarding about being a winemaker? Most rewarding is getting the wine to bottle intact and watching it develop with time in bottle. Ironically, the least rewarding would be the tedium of running the bottling line and actually getting the wine into the bottle!
What are the benefits and challenges of making wine in your region? We are benefitted by the inland cool climate, allowing slow ripening. The key is the cool evenings allowing acid retention as well as allowing us to harvest the fruit in the cold mornings retaining the hallmark freshness of the Frankland River region. The biggest challenge would be the remote location; this requires us to be very self-sufficient which ultimately results in a more sustainable operation on the whole. Our fruit is estate grown, harvested, made, bottled and stored on site until sold.
Have Australians’ wine preferences changed in the last 10 years? Yes for example the preference for wine styles of Chardonnay and Shiraz have become more restrained and elegant.
Have you been to the U.S.? Yes, though at the time I was 6 years old, and I remember that the orange sherbet ice cream in San Francisco was amazing.
Do you think Australia gets an unfair reputation in the U.S. for producing unbalanced, fruit bombs? In the past, perhaps that was true.
Which wine or grape is the least understood or respected? Riesling…….Many people come to our cellar door and assume that Riesling is a sweet wine and will not initially try it.
What excites you most about Australian wine right now? My new refrigeration system! We recently upgraded our refrigeration plant and as a result have reduced our Carbon footprint by around 80%, have much more control of ferments, and have many fewer grey hairs at the end of each day!
What do you drink when relaxing at home? If not a glass of wine, then a home brewed beer or a Negroni or two.
What types of food do you like to eat? Any special dishes you make/care to share?
At the end of vintage every year, as the weather turns, we make a hearty dish of lamb shanks cooked with the grape skins of the 40-year-old Cabernet ferment for around 5 hours, served with polenta and a bottle or two shared with other winemaker friends who are also through with the onslaught of vintage.
What music do you listen to? It depends on what I am doing. V13 Crushing – Beastie Boys; Barrel work – Miles Davis; Cleaning up – Groove Armada; Lab Work – Sarah Blasko.
Which non-Australian wines do you like? Are there any wines you can’t stand to drink? Champagne is an obvious favourite. As for wines I can’t stand to drink, nothing springs to mind – I will try anything, but won’t keep drinking it if I don’t like it; there are too many good wines out there to dwell on the ordinary.
If you could be traveling somewhere else right now, where would you be? As Autumn sets in I’d rather be visiting my sister in tropical Thailand!