Interview With A Winemaker – Melissa Newman

6th October 2023

Interview With A Winemaker Melissa Newman

Wine isn’t just made, it’s crafted by the unwavering expertise of a Winemaker, sometimes old traditions are passed down by generations and on other occasions, new people venture into the industry, introducing us to new creations, this series of Winemaker Interviews will help you uncover the vast world and skills of how the artists passionate about wine make the world a bubbly place.

In this feature we speak with Melissa Newman, an amazing Winemaker from Victoria, Australia, let’s discover a little about her time in Australia’s Wine Industry.

Tell Us About Yourself

“I am a winemaker from Australia who has spent the past three years working in the Pyrenees in Victoria. I have developed a particular love for sparkling wine and I am about to embark on a vintage in Champagne to learn how it’s done from the very best. I love Champagne and firmly believe it is impossible to drink a glass of Champagne and not be happy about it.

I spent the start of my wine career working all over the world and have done vintages in lots of different places including: the Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley, California, Niagara and the Okanagan.”

What Inspired You To Become A Winemaker?

“I started out working behind the bar in hospitality and my love of wine started there. I loved the idea of having a job that takes me all over the world, so I decided to study winemaking which was just over 10 years ago. When I first started out in the wine industry the thing that really grabbed me was how extremely passionate everyone in the industry is. No one gets into wine because they think it’s ok- we do it because we love it!”

As A Winemaker, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing Wine?

“The hardest obstacles in wine are usually related to what mother nature decides. It can be quite tough when the fruit is so pristine and you get a downpour of rain the day before picking for example. Working out those picking decisions based on what the predicted weather is is key. The vintage of 2023 was the toughest season I have ever seen, and it was that way from the very beginning of the growing season with lots of floods taking place early in the season, disease was inevitable. Overcoming the fruit disease in the winery can be quite difficult.”

How Do You Determine When Your Wine Is Ready To Drink?

“It is important to have an idea of what a wine will be from the very beginning. If you know what SKU the fruit is destined for, you can make the decisions accordingly from picking, to fermenting and right through to ageing. Knowing when a wine is ready to drink is an instinctual thing that you learn over time. How long you age it before bottling will depend on the style. Once a wine is bottled, you really want to wait at least a couple of months before drinking it to avoid bottle shock, but then picking the optimal time to drink it will depend on the wine. Some wines are best drunk straight away and some will improve with age.”

What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?

“Vintage is the best time for winemaking because that’s when the magic happens. Watching the fruit develop out on the vine and then getting to see what wine it is going to become through the fermentation process is always incredibly exciting. In the cellar, my favourite jobs are hydrating the yeast, and a good old fashioned foot stomp when the occasion calls for it.”

Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?

“I was given a glass of Billecart Salmon from my birth year for an end of Vintage party in the Yarra Valley back in 2018. It was very special. I will never forget trying that wine! It was delicious, and the most amazing way to wrap up a vintage.”

Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your words, knowledge and experience with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Melissa Newman. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.