Winery News

What goes into making a remarkable wine?

By Halliday Promotion for Grant Burge

14 Jun, 2018

We catch-up with Grant Burge Wines’ chief winemaker, Craig Stansborough, to learn about the many people and approaches that contribute to a good bottle of wine.

It's personal

To you, the drinker, and to the people involved in growing and making the wine. 

That attitude is one of the reasons Craig Stansborough joined Grant Burge Wines 25 years ago. “Grant Burge was the owner, winemaker and a grape-grower, and he deeply understood the importance of different perspectives. The culture was one of constant improvement and experimentation, enabling us to make complex and powerful wines that the drinker would enjoy. It was everything I could want as a young winemaker, and it provided a unique opportunity to develop the philosophies and techniques I retain today,” Craig says.

Craig considers every team member integral to the end result. “Unfortunately winemakers get a bit of the glory, when in fact there are so many people who play an important part,” he says. “Having the right people in place and treating them with respect will ensure you get the best out of every aspect and end up with better wine.” The team extends from the winery to the vineyard, with a wide network of growers who have been working with the brand since the beginning. 

That sentiment of inclusivity carries across to the people who drink Grant Burge Wines. “Understanding what they want is so important,” Craig says. “I think our wines have always been quite approachable, consistent and liked by drinkers, so I try not to let ego get in the way and make wines for them rather than for me,” he says. “It’s about getting more complexity, layers and interest in the wines, while maintaining a recognisable style and bringing our drinkers along with us.”

We imagine the perfect wine, then craft it

“That's how I make wine,” Craig says. “I picture what I want it to smell and taste like, and then go from there.” 

To give an example, Craig explains the thinking behind the new release 2016 Grant Burge Filsell Old Vine Barossa Shiraz. “My vision of that wine is upfront fruit and amazing concentration, as well as lovely integrated oak,” he says. “The ’16 Filsell is a standout for me because it captures the aromas and flavours I’m after, as well as the mouth-feel, structure and texture,” he explains. “If aged correctly, it could live for as long as 30 years. It has that pedigree.” 

Where others see a grape, we see a jewel

The winemaking at Grant Burge starts with the vineyard. “Rodney Birchmore [viticulturist] and I basically work side by side,” Craig says. “His office is a few steps from mine, and we talk on a daily basis about what’s going on in the vineyard and vice versa. It’s incredibly important that we work together, as every vineyard is a separate piece of land that will give you different characteristics, so it’s about really trying to get the best out of those sites.” 

L-R: Rodney Birchmore, viticulturist and Craig Stansborough, winemakerGrant Burge team

Craig is of the opinion that viticultural approaches are evolving, and that there’s more understanding of best practices on the winemaking side as well. “I think our winemaking performance is enhanced by the work that happens in the vineyard each year,” he says. “That’s driven in part by sustainability, which I know tends to be an overused word, but it’s something that needs to be adopted because you’ll see bigger improvements in quality from viticulture than from winemaking to a degree.”

You need to bring it all together

For Craig, it’s important not to lose sight of what really matters, which is making a good drink. “Basically, a wine has to smell good, feel good in the mouth and taste good. You don’t need to get carried away with too many descriptors or overcomplicate it, you just need to be able to pinpoint these three components,” he says. “If that’s the end result, it’s likely to be a good wine.”

That idea applies to every Grant Burge Wine, from the quaffers to the collector’s items. “I’ve always believed that as a winemaker you should be judged on your entry level more than your top-tier wine,” Craig says. “I think if you can get that right – if you can get the interest, passion and pride in your $15 bottle as much as your $150 wine – then that goes a long way to ensuring you make good wine full stop.”

There are lots of important and interesting elements for Craig, but the most rewarding aspect is pure creation. “It’s about making something, getting it into bottle and being proud of it,” he says. “I think every winemaker will tell you that’s where their passion lies. For us at Grant Burge, spending time in the vineyard and winery, with all of the people involved who share the same vision and are proud of what we produce, is really at the heart of what we do.”

Curious to see the result of these approaches? Discover Grant Burge Wines of distinction