Meet Mark Woods of Leogate Estate Wines
The chief winemaker at Leogate Estate, Mark Woods is proudly Hunter Valley born and bred. We recently caught up with him for a chat and to find out what it’s like to make wine using fruit from one of the Hunter Valley’s oldest and most iconic vineyards.
What lead you to choose winemaking as a career?
In my early stages of employment, I was brewing craft beer and enjoyed the creativity of this role. Then I started drinking wine and I was extremely attracted to the agricultural journey from growing the fruit through to making the wine.
What is your favourite thing about being a winemaker?
The teamwork and comradery that you experience during the grape harvest season is very special. Also seeing the consumer express their enjoyment as they indulge in good food, good wine and good company is very rewarding.
What are some of the highlights of your career highlights, so far?
Being able to work with the fruit from the Hunter Valley’s very historic Brokenback Vineyard has been a huge highlight. Also, for five consecutive years having our Leogate wines being served in First Class and Business Class Cabins on Qantas International flights. One special career and business highlight was being awarded the James Rogers Trophy at the International Wine Challenge – London. This award was for the “Best Wine of the Show in the first year of production”.
What’s your favourite thing about the Hunter?
The Hunter Valley has been my home all my life and, is therefore, a very special place to me and my family. The Hunter Valley also offers many diverse career opportunities allowing the younger generation of industry professionals to fulfil their ambitions.
If you had to pick a favourite varietal, which one would you choose and why?
Can I please provide 3? 1) I love Hunter Valley Semillon. 2) I love Hunter Valley Shiraz and 3) of course a great French Champagne is always welcome.
In your opinion, is the Hunter Valley one of the best regions in the Australian wine industry?
Of course! The Hunter Valley is a great wine growing region in Australia. Not only do we have so much history with some of the First Families of the Australian wine industry, but we also offer a wide variety of tourist entertainment to stimulate and satisfy a wide demographic of visitors to our region. Everybody should come and experience the Hunter!
What advice would you give to aspiring winemakers?
To learn all winemaking aspects from the vineyard through to the bottling process and most importantly, ATTENTION TO DETAIL! Have fun and always enjoy your career path.
If you had to pick a favourite wine at Leogate, which one would it be?
The Leogate Estate Wines Basin Reserve Shiraz is the wine I’m most proud of. This wine has provided so many highlights for the company and given us recognition both domestically and internationally.
The Leogate Brokenback Hunter Valley Shiraz 2015 is our Wine of the Month – what makes it such a standout?
This low yielding vineyard of red clay and chocolate clay loam is a corner stone of the Leogate Estate wine portfolio. The Brokenback Vineyard continues to produce a wonderfully classic Hunter Valley Shiraz, medium-bodied in-style, full of savoury pepper and plum fruit richness with layers of French oak that is persistent and seamless.
We have paired it with a delicious pistachio crusted lamb rack. What do you enjoy drinking it with?
The Brokenback Shiraz is a great partner with dry aged Angus scotch fillet steak cooked rare to medium rare. Several glasses of the wine can disappear very quickly during this meal.
Your wine is part of our fantastic Chef & the Cellar Calendar Collection. Why should wine lovers buy this pack?
I am sure all the chefs and all the winemakers are very dedicated to their craft and wish for nothing more than the consumer to enjoy the food and wine experience being offered.
Other than your own wine, what wine do you like to drink at home?
When I comes to other wines and their producers, I like to explore both Australian and international wines where possible. This is the beauty of the wine journey and wine experience.
What’s your ultimate wine and food match?
Steak and Shiraz or Semillon and seafood.
What is your favourite…
Hunter restaurant? My wife and I have a favourite, quite little Japanese/Korean restaurant that we frequent. I just suites us!
Weekend activity? Going to the beach in summer and river fishing.
Season? Summer into autumn.
Travel destination? I really enjoy exploring and experiencing new adventurers.