Over the past 50 or so years I have come across many unusual stories of how people have migrated from different careers to the world of wine. One was a nuclear physicist; another a marine biologist; doctors and lawyers, a dime a dozen.
Adam Richardson spent the first 10 years of his working life flying aircraft around the world for the Royal Australian Navy. In that time he visited many countries, absorbing their cultures and lifestyles, which included wine, sowing a seed. So when the time came to either seek ever-higher command or transition to civilian life, he chose the latter and enrolled in the Charles Sturt University oenology course.
In 1998, Richardson went to California to join Gallo’s research department, headed by Australia’s Dr Terry Lee, and made 3000 batches of wine in the next two years. In 2004 he left Gallo and became president of international winemaking for The Wine Group LLC, second only to Gallo. He introduced the Cupcake brand in 2005, putting his name on 70m back labels before joining Treasury Wine Estate’s Americas as chief winemaker in 2013. He spent the next 18 months extricating it from a much-publicised morass, then all aboard for the Grampians.
The high-speed leap from flying supersonic fighter aircraft to corporate winemaking was made possible by the instant problem-solving and discipline learnt in the air. And there had been a patient 10-year search for a retirement vineyard for his wife Eva (a high performer in her own right), their eight-year-old twins Madeleine and Jackson – and Daisy, a red heeler cattle dog rescued from a pound in California. They found Hard Hill Road in the Grampians in 2005, and planted an exotic mix of varieties (used in The Field blend) using techniques that no amateur should even dream of undertaking.
2018 ATR Hard Hill Road Close-Planted Great Western Shiraz
Open-fermented, multiple small batches, part whole berry and whole bunch, matured in used American puncheons for 18 months. It has an Aladdin’s cave of highly spiced black fruits, high quality tannins a feature of the mouthfeel and lingering flavours. 14.5% alc, screwcap 96 points, drink to 2043, $45
2020 ATR Chockstone Grampians Riesling
The low pH (2.9) and high acidity of 7.5g/l, coupled with the fruit intensity, largely obscure the 5g/l of residual sugar. There is a Germanic cast to the wine, and its surging layers of Meyer lemon and lime fruit. Drink now or enjoy a 10-year payday. 12.5% alc, screwcap 95 points, drink to 2030, $24
2018 ATR Hard Hill Road Great Western The Field
A 52/22/10/9/5/2% blend of shiraz, riesling, nebbiolo, durif, tannat and viognier progressively added to a single open-topped fermenter. The flavours are as complex as the vinification suggests, the bouquet fragrant, likely lifted by the riesling, the palate a cascade of flavours. A brave yet unqualified success. 14.5% alc, screwcap 95 points, drink to 2028, $45