Jeffrey Grossetʼs dedication in the vineyard and winery are renowned, having won him a long string of awards and recognition including the first recipient of Australian Winemaker of the Year from Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine in 1998, International Riesling Winemaker of the Year in 1998, and one of only three Australian white wines rated Exceptional by Langton Classification of Australian Wine VI. Rather than exploring the changes over the 30 years such as climate change, the focus here is on the wider impact Jeffrey Grosset has had on the world of wine. A strongly recurring theme that comes up in Jeffreyʼs life is that at every Y junction he arrived at, when offered the choice of Why or Why Not, he chose the more intriguing and untraveled of the two. Just like his acclaimed wines which develop beautifully with age, you could say it just took the rest of us time to truly appreciate his greater contribution to the world of wine enjoyment.◆ How did you get a start in wine?Jeffrey ―― I remember I was only 15 and my family were living in Adelaide, and dad bought home this bottle of wine. It must have been a table wine and not too strong like a sherry, because I was allowed a little and I was fascinated. I thought I would love to do this, though as a 15 year old I wasnʼt too discerning. On my 16th birthday I enrolled in Roseworthy College and the standard canʼt have been too high, as I got in straight away. I studied agriculture focusing on viticulture for three years and then oenology which is winemaking for two. So at 21 years old, I had finished five years of tertiary education, and went and worked for Seppelt at Great Western (in Victoria), which was just the perfect place to go as they were taking fruit not just from Great Western but Drumborg and Padthaway. So I got to see all those things, then I took off and worked in Germany for a vintage.When I came back I worked at Lindemanʼs Karadoc winery near Mildura. At age 26 I was made chief winemaker, a position that would normally fall to somebody twice my age – the growth was that fast, and I was simply in the right place at the right time (wine consumption in Australia grew 56% between 1976 and 1986). My team of 5 winemakers were all younger than me. It was a fantastic experience for us, running 1000 tons a day with all new equipment was just mind-bending, and we learnt so much.We were running 2-3% of Australiaʼs wine production making all kinds of wines – cask white (Riesling, White Burgundy, Chablis) cheaper bottled wine, red and white through to Ben Ean (Moselle, a semi-sweet white that was Australiaʼs largest selling wine in the 1970s) and Bin 65 Chardonnay.Jeffrey Grosset, The first Grosset vintage, 1981.◆ How did you come to be in Clare Valley?In 1981 I thought I just wanted to give my best shot at making seriously high quality wine. So I left Lindemanʼs and decided on the Clare Valley because the region had already showed itself capable of producing some fairly serious Rieslings, and also impressive Cabernets and a little Shiraz.At the time I thought Riesling was a great variety with great potential, but it wasnʼt getting the attention those other classic varietals were. There was this old milk depot, with a little butter and ice factory made of old stone out the front. It was turned in at auction for $20,000 because no one wanted it. So I had a chance for a home and a start, so I bought that and fitted it out as a winery with what suited my limited budget at the time.Pruning GaiaWhen I looked around for some fruit, everyone said I should go to Watervale, where the best Rieslings were. So I went to a well-known vineyard, where I talked to the owner and told him my story and he said ʻI can let you have fruit from this part here,ʼ and it ended up that for over 20 years we just got the same rows from the same site.At the same time there were a couple of vineyards planted out at Polish Hill River. I was told to steer clear of the area because it was too unreliable – you might get stunning fruit one year but not three years running. But an academic friend with a cottage in the area with a two and a half acre vineyard behind it, said if you want to fix it up you can have it. It was on poor silty soil over shale and slate, and I rem ember thinking from my viticultural training that this was the site you would never choose – it was all wrong. So I thought I would give it a go, pruned the vines right back and re-trellised them, and it wouldnʼt have cost me much if didnʼt work out.◆ Terroir: Making wine first,then explaining it afterwardsInitially, I was just thinking to make Clare Valley Riesling, but in the first year when I saw how different the first two wines were, I thought people have to see this, thin king the Watervale was the more classic and generous of the two, while the Polish Hill was not so upfront fruit, but really long and lingering on the palate. I was looking to blend the two, but they just didnʼt go together. Polish Hill at the beginning was a novelty, something different, so I am still surprised today just how special that wine turned out to be.My feeling at the time was what was in front of me in the glass was quite obviously different - you didn't need to be an expert to see it, it was obvious. For me it was a wonderful thing to show people because it was clearly different. So the conclusion is 'why?' The way we made it is not significantly different, so what did that leave? It must obviously be where it is grown, and that is fascinating too.Today, the way to express the difference in those glasses, in very different wines from the same site, in one word would be terroir. We have spent a long-time getting comfortable with the concept of French word to describe the uniqueness of a specific site, its aspect, soil and climate, but at that time I was simply intrigued by the vineyard and availability of grapes.These days it is a lot easier to explain. I have a photo (right) that has one bunch from Springvale and one bunch from the Polish Hill vineyard, from the same clone, with the same level of ripeness, picked on the same day in 2016. The Springvale bunch is mid-sized, quite bright green, the Polish Hill bunch is half the size, yellowish colour, and doesn't look wildly healthy. So the Polish Hill is probably under half the weight of the other, and that is typical.Differences in grapes harvested from Springvale and Polish Hill sitesWhen I show people this photo they say 'of course the wines are going to taste different, because look at the fruit.' When you talk about terroir, it has a certain 'can't explain what it is' about it, but yes I can - I can actually show you the photo, and then look at the wines, and you don't have to be an expert to appreciate the difference.Polish Hill vineyardSpringvale vineyard◆ Riesling definition- the variety that didn't have a voiceThe label integrity laws that were introduced (in Australia) in 1993 looked to be some of the strictest in the world, which I thought was great for the reputation and integrity of Australian wine. It laid out minimum quantities of a varietal to be used in a wine before it could be labelled as such, with the exception of: 'in the case of Riesling, if the word Riesling is used to describe a style of wine rather than a variety - it will be exempt.' I showed it to James Halliday who is trained in law, and he couldn't believe it. It was clearly written to benefit one or two larger companies at the expense of Australian wine. So we sent out a survey, and the vast majority of winemakers from around Australia signed this petition saying 'get it fixed.'We were excited but it made no difference. It wasn't until seven years later in 2000, when ABC News rang me and said 'we think that Australian wine might be being exported which do not accurately reflect our label integrity laws,' but keeping in mind that the label integrity laws seem to be inconsistent. They asked me would I willing to comment, and I thought about what should I say: 'It appears the Australian government is willing to compromise the reputation of Australian wine for the sake of one or two larger companies'. I asked him: 'Is that the sort of thing you want?' and he said 'Oh yeah!' So they ran it on the news that night, and in no time the law was changed, with a lot of threats of legal action in between. So it became a bit of a character building exercise, but it did get the law changed. So it wasn't until 2000 that wine labelled as Riesling in Australia had to be Riesling - until then, it could have just been a style and everyone had an out.◆ Screw caps - tackling tradition head onIn 1999, at the (Clare Valley) winemakers association, Andrew Hardy who is now at Petaluma, was chair. A pretty down to earth guy, he just said 'How many of you are having problems with corks?' And we said 'well we've always had problems with corks.' In my case I thought, 'in every aspect of grape-growing and winemaking now we are getting to a very high level, in terms of control, we are getting pristine fruit to get a purity of expression of the variety, and think that site and place are showing beautifully through the wine. And then we bottle it, and we don't have control - we risk compromising the wine because of the quality control of the cork.' It was a flawed tradition, but prior to then it was the best option around, but now we have the opportunity of a flawless new technology.Andrew simply said: 'yeah, let's do it' and he was the major instigator in kicking it off. Andrew, Andrew Mitchell and Stephanie Toole my partner from Mt. Horrock Wines, we were the main four. So we thought about how to introduce it.We needed to tell everyone we were doing it from the point-of-view of quality, and that we were doing it because we care about our customers, and our wines will show in the way we intended. We went to Australian glass manufacturers and said 'we want a screw cap, but we don't want to compromise it, we want it to look like a very high quality bottle' and they didn't seem that keen. So we went to Saverglass, a French producer who make great bottles, and they were just classic French and said 'we're specialists and we can do that··· at a price.' Interestingly, the intellectual property for the closure which was developed in Australia, belonged to Pechiney in France. So we went and talked to them too, and they said fine.We tweaked their designs, the shape of the cap and use of a tin liner. The cap is quite tight, with low permeability, but it still has permeability, which many people don't know. It worked so well, that it became the international standard for screw caps. By 2000 we were running them down the bottling line. (Today, 98% of white wine bottled in Australia has a screw cap).