McGuigan Winemaker in the vineyard

Meet Our Winemaker

Our new Cellar Door exclusive range “Mastercraft” was created to celebrate the craft of making wine. We sat down with our Winemaker Ryan Andrew to find out the behind the scene details on the new Mastercraft range, learn about his winemaking experience and hear about his favourite parts of the job.

Tell us a bit about your work history and when did you become a winemaker for McGuigan?

I have been working in the industry since 2006, working mostly in the Hunter Valley with a short stint in the Yarra Valley. I graduated from Charles Sturt University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Applied Science – Wine Science. In the same year, I started working at McGuigan as Assistant Winemaker.

What does the day in a life of a winemaker look like? Does it vary during vintage/non-vintage times?

A day’s work always starts with coffee, especially during vintage as days are long and sleep is limited. This usually coincides with a team meeting to discuss the day’s priorities. During vintage most time is spent on the “floor” in the winery overseeing the processing of incoming fruit. There are also regular visits to all the different vineyards to assess fruit quality and ripeness in preparation for harvesting. Outside of vintage, time is shared between the winery, the tasting lab, and the office with the focus shifting to preparing wines for bottling and managing other wines that are maturing in tank and barrel.

What is your favourite part of the winemaking process?

My favourite part of winemaking is the blending and fine tuning of wines in preparation for bottling. This can mean hours spent in the tasting lab but is hugely rewarding when you get it right!

What is your biggest challenge as a winemaker?

The biggest challenge of winemaking is to maintain consistency across our range of wines while keeping in line with customer expectations.

What do you love most about your job?

The greatly varied nature of the position. There are many facets to winemaking which can range from hands on work in the winery, to planning and organising of vintages and wine styles through to the hosting of dinners and wine tastings.

Why does the Hunter Valley make such great wines?

We focus on the varieties that are best suited to the warm Hunter Valley climate including Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz. We have access to some of the oldest grapevines in not only Australia but also the world. These old vines are known to produce very small yields of extremely intense and flavoursome fruit. The Hunter also has a pool of immensely talented and experienced winemakers who regularly collaborate and share knowledge all for the betterment of Hunter Valley wine.

Outside of the Hunter Valley, what is your favorite wine region in Australia?

This would have to be the Yarra Valley. Not only is it home to some spectacular scenery but also home to some amazing boutique wineries that have mastered varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

What would be your favourite wine to drink in the Mastercraft range? Why?

My current favourite is the 2021 Tempranillo sourced from the cool climate region of Hilltops NSW. This is an easy drinking wine, bursting with red fruit flavours, which are complemented by elegant tannins.

Can you recommend an interesting food-wine pairing for the Mastercraft range?

The 2021 Montepulciano with a charcuterie board of pork smallgoods, duck pate and pickled vegetables.

Which Mastercraft wine did you enjoy making the most and why?

I really enjoyed making the 2021 Mastercraft Malbec that will be released later this year. The wine is a blend of the same variety but from different regions. Malbec from the Hilltops region has been blended with Malbec from the Limestone Coast region. The Hilltops component provides elegant and floral characters, while the Limestone Coast component provides rich and ripe dark berry flavours. The finished wine shows a lovely balance of flavours and is sure to please.