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Chasing excellence since 1966

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Our Winemakers

The Wolf Blass team of winemakers share a similar working ethos – to boldly chase the pursuit of excellence, to uphold and represent Wolf Blass' proud history, and to create wine of exceptional quality.

Photo of Chris Hatcher
Chris Hatcher
Chief Winemaker

Chris is one of Australia's leading winemakers and a highly respected wine show judge across the globe. His attention to detail ensures the quality, consistency and character for which Wolf Blass is renowned.

Growing up in Adelaide, Chris knew he wanted to be a winemaker from a very young age. He can't quite pinpoint why. His father was a strict Methodist and there was never any wine in the house. For Chris, it was more about obtaining what you could not have.

In 1974 Chris completed a Science Degree at the University of Adelaide in South Australia before studying winemaking at Charles Sturt University in NSW.

After working at Orlando and Kaiser Stuhl in the Barossa Valley and the Simi Winery in California, Chris joined Wolf Blass Wines in December 1987. For the next 10 years, Chris was the Senior Winemaker responsible for Wolf Blass whites and sparkling. In that decade, Chris made 39 trophy and 218 gold medal-winning wines. He was also responsible for steering the success of the Wolf Blass white wine range, which ultimately set the groundwork for our export success.

In 2008, Chris insisted that Wolf Blass Black Label be entered into a blind tasting competition against 30 of the most iconic wines in the world, some costing upwards of $2,000 a bottle. Many thought, against such distinguished company, that it was a crazy idea. But as it turned out, against the world's best our Black Label received an almost perfect score – which only told Chris there was still room for improvement.

Photo of Steven Frost
Steven Frost
Senior Winemaker

Steve grew up in his family's restaurant business in the Yarra Valley where, at an early age, his interest in food and wine was cultivated.

Though it wasn't his first career, growing and making wine was always Steve's passion, with most weekends spent working part-time in vineyards and making wines with friends.

Steve started working in the wine industry full-time in 1999, the same year he started a Bachelor of Applied Science (Wine Science) at Charles Sturt University.

Drawn to work in the Barossa in 2005, he's been making Wolf Blass reds since 2008. The winery's expansive vineyard resources, modern and traditional winemaking techniques, and careful approach to blending proved just as irresistible then as they do now.

Photo of Marie Clay
Marie Clay
Winemaker

Wolf Blass winemaker Marie Clay discovered wine through her Dad's stellar collection of South Australian reds. Like all good fathers, he stocked up on the birth year of his two daughters. In Marie's case, that just happened to be a lovely bottle of 1979 Wolf Blass Black Label, which was cracked at her 21st birthday.

After graduating in 2000 from the University of Adelaide with first Class honours in Oenology, Marie received the Southcorp wine scholarship. This allowed her to travel and work with the company’s best winemakers across the Australian wine regions of Coonawarra, Barossa, Sunraysia and Great Western.

Following these experiences, Marie worked with Lindeman’s for 4 years at both their NSW and Victorian wineries, overseeing white wine production.

In December 2006 Marie joined the Wolf Blass winemaking team in the Barossa, where she relished the opportunity to work with premium red wines from vineyard to bottle. She loves working in a modern winery that allows the fruit's potential to be realised. Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale, the heartland regions of the Grey Label range, are particularly close to her heart.

International vintages in Tuscany and Burgundy have rounded out her winemaking experience and keep fueling her passion to learn.  

Marie has enjoyed judging at Australian wine shows over the past 15 years, completed the Australian Wine Assessment Course (AWAC) in 2004, and was a Len Evans scholar in 2015. She has been a regular guest judge at AWAC over the last 5 years, where she contributes to the education of the students.

She is the proud owner of a vineyard in the Moppa sub-region of the Barossa, planted to old vine Shiraz and Grenache, which she and her family now call home. 

Photo of Clare Dry
Clare Dry
Winemaker

During her teens, Clare's interest in horticulture led to work experience at a winery on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula where she grew up. It took just two days of work experience for her to know she wanted a career in the wine industry.

After high school, Clare enrolled in a Bachelor of Oenology (Wine Science) at Adelaide University and then, with a thirst for more practical knowledge before recommencing study, took a gap year to work on a vintage on the Mornington Peninsula, and a second in the Pfalz region of Germany.

Since her graduation in 2007, Clare has been a key member of the Wolf Blass team and works alongside her colleagues to ensure the guiding principles behind each wine are met.

Clare has a strong interest in cool climate wines and is particularly fond of the Adelaide Hills, where she spends a lot of time in vineyards during vintage assessing grapes for harvest, especially Pinot Noir.

The winemaking team source fruit from many of the premium wine growing areas of South Australia and according to Clare, it's this exposure to multiple regions, as well as multiple varieties, styles, techniques, technology and expertise that makes working for Wolf Blass such a fulfilling experience.

Photo of John Ashwell
John Ashwell
Winemaker

John's passion for the wine industry was nurtured early by his parents through their interest in grape growing and determination to set up a successful boutique winery.

As John got older he went on to manage his parents' vineyard in Queensland, located 800 metres above sea level on the Great Dividing Range. For the next two years John followed the annual cycle of grape vines with keen interest, before deciding it was time to learn how to turn grapes into wine.

He enrolled in a Bachelor of Applied Science (Wine Science) at Charles Sturt University in 2003, and the following years saw John studying while working in Central Victoria, the Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley and Sonoma County in California.

Returning to Australia for vintage in 2008, he decided South Australia was where he would continue his winemaking education, so he packed his car, earthly belongings and hit the road.

John started at Wolf Blass as Vintage Winemaker in 2009, and has been working with us ever since. The range of wine styles and winemaking options available are a constant source of inspiration to him, and help drive his determination to ensure every wine under his care is the best it can be.

Never forgetting his start in the wine industry, John is always keen to get out to the vineyards to watch the vines as they progress through the growing period.