Winemaker of the Year 2016: Peter Fraser

There is a strong thread of karma in following Pete Fraser’s journey in life from a reserve infantry officer in the Australian Army to chief winemaker of Yangarra Estate Vineyard. It was in the officers’ mess that he first tasted great old Australian red wines and diverted from ideas of a career in veterinary science or straight agriculture. Instead he enrolled in the Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Oenology) at the Roseworthy campus of the University of Adelaide in 1993, aged 19.

In September ’97 he was appointed winemaker at Normans Clarendon Winery. The UK importer of Normans was so impressed with the wines he asked Fraser to consult on some projects in Spain including the vintage in 1999, and as a payback he was given a three-week study tour through Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley, which Fraser says ‘really started to shape my winemaking’. In 2000 (aged 26) he was officially appointed chief winemaker of Normans, and this brought him into contact with the Californian Jackson Family Wine Group and its plans to invest in Australia.

At the beginning of 2001 he left Normans to work with Jackson Family as a fulltime consultant, and later that year helped the family acquire from Normans what is now Yangarra Estate Vineyard.

From 2003 to 2008 he made Shiraz in California for Jackson Family, and each year worked at Yangarra with vineyard manager Michael Lane. They guided the vineyard through to organic and then Biodynamic ‘A’ Certification.

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