For those more partial to hops than grapes, making the move from beer to wine isn’t easy, however Dalrymple Vineyards’ Cam Walker insists it can be done.
A self-confessed beer drinker, Cam grew up in Scottsdale – a timber industry town in the northeast corner of the state.
Having very little interest in (or understanding of) wine while living and working in Scottsdale, Cam said it was a timber industry downturn that eventually plunged him into Pinot.
“I’ve never been a massive wine drinker, I’m more of a XXXX Summer Bright Lager kind of guy,” he said.
“I just fell into the wine industry, after taking on a vineyard worker role at Dalrymple Vineyards in 2010 and I’ve never looked back.
“From day one of working at Dalrymple I started to get an understanding for what all the fuss was about.”
Now vineyard supervisor for the boutique Tasmanian wine brand, Cam calls Launceston home, spending his days tending 16 hectares of vineyard for Dalrymple – from Pipers Brook to the Coal River Valley.
“As vineyard supervisor for the brand, I’m in charge of all vineyard operations, coordinating the harvest, as well as pruning and irrigation programs,” he said.
“Like in any farming practice weather patterns can be a big challenge, particularly when you’re trying to grow Pinot Noir for a top brand like Dalrymple.
“This December we only had 11mm of rain, compared to 75mm in 2014 – we’ve also had an uncharacteristically hot summer this year with temperatures reaching 30 degrees.”
In spite of unreliable weather conditions, Cam says the Tasmanian wine industry has developed considerably over the past five years – giving him high hopes for the future.
“There’s been a noticeable growth in the number of Tasmanian wine producers, with a lot of young enthusiastic people joining the industry,” he said.
“Larger wine companies are also investing in Tasmania, while smaller guys are popping up everywhere – I like the growth and there’s room for it, as long as we continue to emphasise quality over quantity.”
Still making it home every weekend to play footy for the Scottsdale Magpies, Cam describes Tasmania as a “good all rounder”.
“There’s beautiful scenery – no matter where you are in Tassie you’ll always be just a short drive from the beach and the mountains,” he said. “There’s so much to do outdoors from trekking to surfing and great food and wine in the south.”
So, as a self-confessed wine convert, what style of wine would Cam recommend to his beer-drinking footy mates?
“Pinot of course,” he said. “Other reds are too big and bold for my palate.”
“Dalrymple’s Cottage Block Pinot Noir is my favourite, it’s really fruit driven and has a nice spice to it,” he continues.
“I really enjoy sampling different wines now, tasting their little quirks and characteristics and how much they differ from one site to another.
“It’s like discovering a interesting piece of wood – its layers, colours and texture reveal the story behind it.”