Meet Chris Hatcher, Chief Winemaker at Wolf Blass. Read below to find out his favourite wine to indulge in on Father's Day, how he became a winemaker and the most important things he learnt from his father.
How would you like to celebrate your ideal Fathers Day ?
My passions are food and wine so the ideal celebration for Father’s Day would be lunch with my family in Burgundy, my favourite wine region outside Australia.
If you had to pick one wine that aligns perfectly with Father’s Day, what would it be and why?
On Father’s Day one should indulge oneself and I cannot think of a better wine for the ultimate indulgence than a lovely aged bottle of Wolf Blass Black Label enjoyed with family.
Whats the weirdest Fathers Day gift you have ever been given?
My children gave me an electric knife to carve our lamb roast.
Whats the greatest hope you have for the future as a Father and a winemaker?
Both of my children have followed me into the wine industry and I hope that my grandchildren have the desire and opportunity to experience this great industry.
What similarities are there between being a good father and a good winemaker?
Winemaking is definitely easier than parenting but I have learnt in both to expect the unexpected, be flexible and work hard, and smart, to achieve the best outcome.
What was the 3 most important things your learnt from your Father?
My father grew up during the Great Depression and he believed the key to a successful life was hard work, getting the job done (not just talking about it) and spending money wisely.
If you could change one thing about fathers day, what would it be ?
People buying gifts that you don’t want or need. A good bottle of wine never disappoints and also helps bring people together.
What is your secret to raising children?
I wish I knew! My wife should be answering this question as she did most for our children particularly during vintage when I was away from home.
What do you want your children and grandchildren to remember about you?
That I set high standards and lived by them,
How did you become a winemaker ? what influenced your decision ?
I was born into a strong Methodist family and there were no alcoholic beverages in our house when I was growing up. Often I was told by my mother how it was the downfall of many good men. As I was somewhat adventurous, as a young man I started exploring the things my parents told me were banned, and I particularly loved wine. My main interest at school was Science and in particular biology, however, I was also very interested in the old world. After completing high school I studied Science at the University of Adelaide and at the end of my first year I took a year off to earn some money. Fortunately I landed a job in the laboratory of the Australian Wine Research Institute and during that time I visited many wineries. I was fascinated by the wine industry as it is a true blend of the old world and Science. I decided on a career in wine so I returned to University and completed my Degree majoring in Microbiology and Organic Chemistry. My first job was in the Barossa Valley doing research at one of the wineries. I decided winemaking was what I wanted to do so I studied Wine Science at the University of Wagga and moved into a winemaking position after 6 months. I loved making wine and was very successful at wine competitions from my very first vintage. To my great surprise after making wine for three years my mother informed me that my Great Grandfather Alf Vesey was actually the first winemaker at Penfolds. He started in the cellar and when Dr Penfolds died back in the late 1800s he became the winemaker. Max Schubert, the maker of Grange, was one of his trainees.
What are your 3 best family memories?
When my children were young my favourite memories were Christmas holidays with them at Port Elliot - a great beach area in SA; along with and taking them into the winery every Sunday during vintage to watch me do the fermentation round. But now they are adults I thoroughly enjoy long lunches with our extended family and sharing a great bottle of wine or two.
Is there anything in life that you didn’t try, but wish you had?
As a winemaker I have been very privileged to travel the world and I am extremely fortunate to have made a successful career out of my hobby so I feel that I have missed nothing.
If you could pick 3 people to host a wine dinner with , who would they be and why?
My wife - she is a great conversationalist, Tuoi Do – chef and owner of my most favourite restaurant FermentAsian, Wolfgang Blass – he is always entertaining/controversial and he would bring some fantastic older vintages from his cellar.
If you had to pick one wine to drink before you die, what would it be and why ?
Before I die I would like to drink the next vintage of Wolf Blass Black Label that wins the famous Jimmy Watson Trophy making it the fifth time for Black Label to win this prestigious award. I hope I live to see that day.
Finish the sentence: “In my life , I am most proud that …….."
...after all the sacrifices they made, my parents gave me a great start in life and would be proud of my life and career.