04 Nov Peter Gago
Chief Winemaker, Penfolds
Peter joined the then Penfolds Wines Pty Ltd in 1989. He started his tenure making sparkling wine, then reds, and served as Penfolds Red Wine Oenologist before being appointed Penfolds Chief Winemaker in 2002, making him only the fourth winemaker to be responsible for Penfolds’ flagship wine, Grange.
Fresh out of university, Peter, a natural educator, initially taught maths and science, prior to attending Roseworthy College, where he graduated as Dux of the Bachelor of Applied Science (Oenology). Peter has travelled and tasted extensively, literally visiting every continent (and most countries !) in an effort to introduce people to Australian wine. Peter globally hosts master classes, tastings and various wine events, regularly appearing on radio, television & webcasts.
Most recently, in October 2005 Peter Gago was named by the U.S. Wine Enthusiast magazine as Winemaker of the Year. This was followed in 2007 by more local recognition, when awarded ‘Winemaker of the Year’ by the Barons of Barossa (a group which comprises some of the greatest names in Australian wine). In 2008 Peter became the inaugural ‘Big Red Winemaker of the Year’, in Campbell Mattinson’s Big Red Wine Book. In 2012 Peter received his global peer’s Winemaker’s Winemaker Award in Düsseldorf – conveyed by the Institute of Masters of Wine & London’s Drinks Business Magazine.
Peter strives to simultaneously maintain the Penfolds wine style and explore new territories. “Many Penfolds wines – both red and white – are made to be true to a particular style each year, others are true to their unique single-vineyard source, and others to the closely aligned vineyards of a smaller viticultural region,” says Peter. “I also play a role in the development of new wine styles – an exciting part of the job.” Like most winemakers, Peter’s tastes are wide-ranging. “It’s important not to fall into the trap of drinking only your own wines,” he says. “You have to keep up with what your competitors are doing and with what’s happening in other wine-producing countries. You must have benchmarks against which to measure your own achievements – besides, I love trying new (and old!) wines!”