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Peter Weinberg
Peter Weinberg
Peter Weinberg

Peter Weinberg

Chief Winemaker

Peter Weinberg came into the winemaking profession later in his life after vetting a number of different careers, including three years as a trainee surveyor and 10 years as a freight train driver. It wasn’t until 1992 that he finally decided that winemaking was his true passion.

During holidays from train driving he studied a Bachelor of Applied Science (Oenology) degree at Charles Sturt University which he completed in 1998. It was during this time he also worked in the cellar and vineyards at Mt. Pleasant in the Hunter Valley.

Upon completion of his degree, Peter worked as Assistant Winemaker at Mt Pleasant in the Hunter Valley.

In 1999 Peter was offered a position as Winemaker and Assistant Manager at of one of the founding Coonawarra wineries, Brand’s Laira. Brand’s Laira is an iconic winery, nestled in the heart of the famed “terra rossa” strip of the Coonawarra region in South Australia. In 2004 Peter was appointed Winemaker and Manager. Since that time he has been involved in every aspect of winemaking at the Brand’s Laira winery, creating opulent and richly flavoured premium wines from this distinct region.

Peter has a great passion for Coonawarra, a region which allows him to create wines of great flavour and finesse. Peter excels in crafting bold red wines that are distinctly Coonawarra in style, including impressive Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot. Coonawarra is also known for producing exceptional Chardonnay and Riesling. Peter is proud to be able to showcase the region’s ability to produce fine white wines which are a complete expression of the characters inherent in these Coonawarra varietals.

The Brand’s Laira vines are some of the oldest in the region, the oldest planted over 120 years ago. Peter is particularly passionate about working with fruit drawn from these vineyards. The special parcels of fruit from these vines are used to create the Brand’s Laira flagship single vineyard wine – Stentiford’s Shiraz.

5 minutes with Peter

Q. Who is the greatest influence in your winemaking life?

I honestly could not point out one single person, I have learnt something from everyone I have come across in my career. I believe you should be learning at every opportunity!

Q. What is your approach to winemaking?

To always make the most out of the fruit available to me and treat it in a manner that achieves a high quality and balanced wine with as little intervention as possible.

Q. Brand’s has many loyal drinkers, how would you describe them?

I run into many people in my life who say they have been drinking Brand’s Laira wines all their drinking life or who say that Brand’s Laira is their favourite wine label. They span many demographics and it’s always satisfying to hear their comments. I am most keen to get more of the younger generations to appreciate wine in its many varieties and flavours from all around the world – of course, with a focus on Brand’s Laira.

Q. What winemaking philosophy do you live by?

It is my responsibility to make the best wine I can from the quality fruit that our viticulturists and growers strive to produce for us; as well as to make a wine that will put a smile on our drinkers’ faces.

Q. What is your favourite part of the winemaking process?

I love the fermentation stage where you see the evolution from fruit to wine, this is a very important and dynamic stage and sometimes a bit stressful. I also love blending where you select different individual components to make a balanced finished wine.

Q. If you could invite one person to share a bottle of your wine with, who would it be?

David Attenborough: a great teacher and promoter of the natural world and of how we need to work together to protect it.

Q. What is your favourite Brand’s Laira wine and why?

This is hard as I truly love them all, though if I was forced to select it would of course be the One Seven One Cabernet Sauvignon. It typifies the qualities of the ‘king of grapes’ Cabernet Sauvignon and also the suitability of this variety with Coonawarra - where the soils and climate maximise its intrinsic qualities.

Q. When you are not making wine, what do you enjoy doing

I very much enjoy gardening and then utilising the product of my garden with cooking - of course you need a glass or two of wine to produce superior dishes! I also enjoy exploring - both by foot and by car with my lovely wife by my side. Music is another passion – enjoying live bands or, because of Coonawarra’s remote location, via my music collection or Spotify. Playing guitar is also great; though I am a bit rusty. I hope to get back to playing with some of the locals again soon though!

Q. What’s your favourite wine region in the world — other than your own?

I love both Bordeaux and Burgundy. Bordeaux is the home of the King of grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon as well as another great varietal – Merlot. Burgundy is the home of the queen of grapes – Chardonnay, and I am a massive Chardonnay fan.

Q. What would people be surprised to know about you?

I suppose that I used to be a train driver and now as well as being a winemaker I am a volunteer fireman.

Q. If you weren’t making wine for a living, what would you be doing?

I think I would be doing something with plants – maybe growing niche crops or landscaping; or I could be out working in nature as a park ranger!

Q. What’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? The most interesting?

Another hard question! I have tasted so many wines that I love but I am going to have to say, shamelessly, our Brand’s Laira 2010 One Seven One Cabernet Sauvignon. As far as the ‘most interesting’ there are so many varieties and regions around the world that, exploring and discovering these wines and regions is interesting enough in itself.

Q. What do you love most about Coonawarra?

There are many things great about Coonawarra – the community, its isolation – which can be both good and bad - and the climate, I love experiencing four proper seasons.

Q. Favourite music?

I love a range of music but you can generally say my tastes are not mainstream.

Q. Favourite book?

It’s been many years since I read it but Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, it quite moved me and has shaped many of my thoughts and beliefs. After that, I am a National Geographic fan.

Q. Favourite movie?

I don’t really have a favourite movie, although I could say Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola - a pretty insane movie.


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