We chat with Jacob’s Creek’s Trina Smith

24 September, 2019 by Deborah Jackson

In the September issue of National Liquor News we caught up with Trina Smith, the Group White and Sparkling Winemaker for Jacob’s Creek, and find out about her 20 years in winemaking and what we can expect from vintage 2019.

NLN: Trina, you’ve got more than 20 years of winemaking experience. What changes have you noticed in Australian wine over that time?

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The rise of rosé has been a huge change and one that we can still see in affect today. There is still a love for sweet wines out there however this is slowly diminishing. Premiumisation is happening across all sectors and people are not just looking for varieties and regions anymore, it’s becoming more about styles and drinkability. However, there is still plenty of love for the traditional varieties but ones that are well made and precise.

NLN: And who have been some of your biggest influences?

The biggest influences are two of my previous bosses. Terry Barnett (Brown Brothers) who gave me my first full time role in Australia and especially instilled a love for great Australian sparkling wine, but also gave me the opportunity to work with both big commercial blends alongside smaller premium parcels from cooler regions. Second is Charles (Chilly) Hargraves who I worked with at Treasury Wine Estates, Chilly cemented my love for Australian sparkling but also allowed me the opportunity to look at fruit from a few different regions throughout Australia such as Tasmania, Tumbarumba, Yarra etc.

NLN: How has this year’s vintage been? What are you expecting?

For many of the regions where we source quality grapes from in South Australia, Victoria and NSW, the vintage has been influenced by the very dry conditions of winter and the extreme heat events of January and February 2019.

In the south east of South Australia rainfall was much closer to the long-term average with key physiological ripening periods being less impacted by heat, so the style of wines will be different from regions further north. The dry conditions in mid-2018 followed by extreme heat particularly in South Australia has meant that some varieties, have had lower than average yields resulting in richer styles of wines across both reds and whites.

NLN: What have been the highlights of your time at Jacob’s Creek?

I’m currently the Group White and Sparkling Winemaker for Jacob’s Creek, Australia’s number one bottled wine brand by volume exported to over 80 markets around the world. I’m lucky enough to make wines for consumers around the world who drink more than one million glasses of Jacob’s Creek every day. I lead a team of six winemakers to look after our portfolio of white, sparkling and rosé wines.

Ultimately, the most important thing for me and my team is to make wines that people love to drink and it’s an honour to do so for a trusted global Australian brand. One of the most rewarding parts of being a winemaker is receiving recognition from peers within the industry. I’m incredibly proud to say that over the past 12 months, our white, sparkling and rosé wines have collectively been awarded nine trophies and 36 gold medals.

NLN: The Jacob’s Creek Le Petit Rosé has enjoyed great success and received many accolades since it launched (included being named Best Rosé at ALIA). What is it that sets the Le Petit Rosé apart?

In the current global rosé revolution, I’m particularly proud of the success of our Jacob’s Creek Le Petit Rosé. When making this wine, we aim to ensure the carefully selected varieties are at the optimal ripeness to create a beautiful dry French-style rosé with vibrant fruit flavours. Restrained and well balanced, the dry palate is savoury and chalky, with vibrant fruit flavours.

NLN: Do you expect the rosé category to continue to gain popularity with consumers?

Le Petit Rosé grew to be the number one rosé in Australia within six months of launch. With this year’s trophy wins at both the Sydney Royal and Queensland wine shows, Le Petit Rosé is a testament to the global appeal of Jacob’s Creek, and is now being enjoyed by consumers in 11 markets.

NLN: Have you been noticing any other emerging wine trends?

Low-alcohol and organic wines are certainly on the rise, however also wines that are more sessionable such as medium, lighter body red blends.

NLN: How can winemakers work with retailers to achieve the best results for both businesses?

It’s important for winemakers to spend time and get in at the retailer’s door in order to understand the demands and everyday challenges they are facing. This includes working with them and listening to what emerging trends they are seeing in their specific region not just on a national or even global scale.

NLN: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

We’re incredibly proud of the success of Jacob’s Creek Le Petit Rosé both at wine shows and with the feedback we receive every day from our customers. We source fruit to ensure this wine meets the lighter style with grapes from Pinot Noir, Grenache and Mataro with careful winemaking in order to create a wine with structure and longevity.

While Le Petit Rosé has been a tremendous success, we still have huge demand and support for our Classic wines such as our Jacob’s Creek Classic Shiraz Rosé and Classic Riesling, which also just picked up a trophy at Sydney Royal. All our wines represent great quality and a good price.

This interview was published in the September issue of National Liquor News.