high achiever

MARGARET RIVER WINE­MAKER, NIC PETERKIN, BE­LIEVES ART, SCI­ENCE AND A LIT­TLE LUCK ARE THE KEY IN­GRE­DI­ENTS FOR CRE­AT­ING THE PER­FECT DROP.

Country Style - - YOUR PAGE - WORDS CLAIRE MAC­TAG­GART PHO­TOG­RA­PHY MARK ROPER

Nic Peterkin is the vi­va­cious 31-year-old be­hind L.A.S Vino wine la­bel. A third-gen­er­a­tion wine pro­ducer, Nic has im­pres­sive origins; his mother Shel­ley is from the Cullen fam­ily of Cullen Wines, while his fa­ther Michael is a doc­tor turned vi­gneron, who founded Pierro vine­yard at Margaret River. “Wine was al­ways at the ta­ble when we were hav­ing din­ner, es­pe­cially with my grand­mother, Di [Cullen], when we would go there for Sun­day din­ners,” he re­calls. “Even from the age of five I would smell the wine and guess what it was.” And now the young wine­maker hopes to take his own unique brand of wine around the world. Much of Nic’s child­hood was spent work­ing in the vine­yard and win­ery at Pierro, earn­ing pocket money over sum­mer breaks. “Look­ing back at it, it was quite fun and you learn all th­ese base skills so when it comes to the point where I am now, it’s sec­ond na­ture,” he says. Rather than re­turn to the fam­ily busi­ness, Nic com­pleted a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence and Com­merce with hopes to move into fi­nance and bank­ing. How­ever, in his fi­nal year a lec­turer cau­tioned him against it as a ca­reer due to the fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2007–2008. In­stead, Nic trav­elled the world twice and be­tween over­seas stints, re­turned home to Pierro to make wine and save money. He com­pleted a Masters in oenol­ogy at Ade­laide Univer­sity when he was 27. “I re­ally en­joyed it, par­tic­u­larly the chem­istry of it and be­ing around peo­ple that were so pas­sion­ate about wine,” he says. Nic worked the vin­tage at Truchard Vine­yards in Cal­i­for­nia as well as Casa Madero in Mex­ico. “I came home with an urge to ex­per­i­ment and try ideas that I’d learnt from other wine­mak­ers,” he says. It was at a small wine bar in Par­ras, Mex­ico, that he stum­bled upon the con­cept for his own la­bel. He and his friend Os­car were en­gaged in a heated dis­cus­sion about the virtues of Aus­tralian ver­sus Mex­i­can wine be­fore they even­tu­ally agreed that it takes luck, art and sci­ence to cre­ate the per­fect drop. “Luck. Art. Sci­ence… L.A.S Vino!” Nic de­clared, and came home in 2013 on a mission to im­bue wine with lash­ings of per­son­al­ity. Qual­ity was first and fore­most and Nic was for­tu­nate that there was an over­sup­ply of grapes at Margaret River at the time. “It was all about get­ting >

re­ally good fruit and mak­ing dif­fer­ent flavours and small pro­duc­tion,” he ex­plains. He pro­duced two hun­dred dozen of three batches from the 2013 vin­tage. “At first I had enough fam­ily and friends to buy it out of sym­pa­thy but then they came back ask­ing for more and so I thought, ‘This prob­a­bly isn’t sym­pa­thy any­more!’” Be­fore long lead­ing restau­rants like Rock­pool and No­mad in Syd­ney were ask­ing to stock the wine, as well as dis­trib­u­tors, both here and over­seas. And just three years af­ter launch­ing his la­bel, Nic won the 2016 Gourmet Trav­eller Young Wine­maker of the Year. “Once you cre­ate some­thing that’s re­ally high qual­ity and a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent you get pull. I’ve al­ways tried to make wine that I think I would en­joy drink­ing: like the Al­bino Pinot, which is straw­ber­ries and cream in a bot­tle, or the Por­tuguese Pi­rate, which is a blend of three Por­tuguese va­ri­eties.” Nic has been based on the coast of WA at Wilyabrup for the past three years and is home from Novem­ber through to June. For the rest of the year he is on the road do­ing wine tast­ings and pro­mot­ing L.A.S Vino. “I love the flex­i­bil­ity of hav­ing my own busi­ness and fly­ing around to meet peo­ple is re­ally cool,” he ad­mits. “I would never get that ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in fi­nance.” L.A.S Vino is made at Pierro with min­i­mal in­ter­ven­tion and Nic plays with dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties such as the pinot noir that is ac­tu­ally a white wine with chardon­nay in it. “Cre­ativ­ity is the big draw, be­ing able to ex­per­i­ment and see it all the way through to the per­son drink­ing it. I love hear­ing that it’s in­ter­est­ing and delicious,” he adds. Af­ter a decade of travel, Nic ap­pre­ci­ates a quiet week­end at home spent surf­ing, cook­ing with friends or in­dulging in an­other great love — pho­tog­ra­phy. “I en­joy Margaret River be­cause there’s less of ev­ery­thing, not more. It’s the sub­tleties of life that draw you in and un­til this year I’ve never had to put an ad­dress on any­thing , just my name and they’d get my mail to me. You can go for a run on the beach or surf and there’s no-one there. That’s the ap­peal.” Life it seems has come full cir­cle: “I had al­ways as­so­ci­ated wine­mak­ing with hot days in the vine­yard or clean­ing floors in the win­ery. I never saw the ro­man­tic side of it. Then I found an­other per­spec­tive; build­ing a busi­ness up from the ground, talk­ing to the grow­ers, de­vel­op­ing blends, get­ting peo­ple to try the wine — the whole process — as well as the hard phys­i­cal work. I found it ac­tu­ally fits me per­fectly; cre­ativ­ity mixed with sci­ence, busi­ness and travel. This is a per­fect ca­reer!”

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