French biologist come cellar-hand Margaux Vigy’s passion for wine has taken her to some of the most beautiful corners of the world – from the rolling vineyards of Burgundy, to the cellars of Chile, and the wine rooms of California.
Yet it is her first Australian vintage, at Dalrymple Vineyards in Tasmania that has captured her heart, with its stunning scenery, food culture, and of course, its Pinot Noir.
How long have you been involved in the wine industry? What sparked your interest?
I started out studying biology, chemistry and the food industry, but what interested me the most was the sensory analysis and food technology.
Wanting to learn more about wine, I undertook an internship in a laboratory of oenology at the University of Adelaide, South Australia in 2010.
I spent three months learning about wine tasting, wine chemistry and the Australian wine industry. It was a great experience. I loved Australia, the people and their wine!
Once I returned to France I undertook a National Diploma of Oenology, which I graduated from in 2014.
Tell us how you came to work at Dalrymple.
Since I graduated, almost two years ago, I have been travelling the world.
I started in Burgundy for seven months, which was an incredible experience. I then went to Chilli and California.
I was looking for a job in the southern hemisphere, for the 2016 vintage and thought Tasmania would be a great place to visit, mainly because I wanted to make Pinot Noir.
Peter Caldwell, the Vigneron at Dalrymple posted an ad for a vintage casual, and after reading some articles on the winery I applied straight away!
What is your role at Dalrymple?
I am a casual employee for the entire three-month vintage. My role is to prepare the winery so that it’s ready for harvest, to sample and analyse the grapes, and receive the grapes during vintage.
It’s also my role to follow the fermentations – to make sure every tank is fermenting well – and to participate in the winemaking operations until barrelling and malolactic fermentation is done.
Can you run us through your typical working day?
At the moment we are preparing for harvest so it is a lot of cleaning and making sure everything is working well.
We need to be organised when we receive the grapes, so we are calibrating the laboratory and starting the grape samples and analysis.
It’s a good way to acclimate ourselves to the winery, the equipment, and to meet the team before harvest starts.
Once harvest starts things will get busier – with grapes being received, crushing, analysis and additions, winemaking operations and fermentation.
Although there will be some busy days, it’s a great time to be in the wine industry. There is a lot of energy and adrenaline around the winery, with everyone working towards the same goal – to make the most of our high quality grapes by creating great wine.
I’m really looking forward to tasting the first wine too!
How is Dalrymple different to other wineries you have worked for?
I have worked in a few different sized wineries, but never anything too big. I prefer to work for small, high quality winemakers, in order to gain the best experience, and to build a diverse range of skills.
I’m used to working alone or as part of a team – at Dalrymple it is just Peter during the year and two or three cellar hands during harvest, which I like. We have a lot of autonomy, and there’s always something to do.
What is your favourite wine variety and why?
My favourite wine variety would be Pinot Noir, but it depends on the region, as I really like cool climate Pinot Noir. It is one of the most difficult grapes, so it’s a good winemaking challenge.
I’m fortunate to have tasted some of the best Pinot Noir in the world in Burgundy – it’s incredible how deep, fine and delicate it is.
What do you enjoy about living and working in Tasmania?
I have been in Tasmania for only two weeks, but it seems to be a great place for wine, gastronomy and nature. I love the sea and enjoy hiking so it’s amazing to be in a place where you can visit the seaside and the mountains in the same day.
It also seems to be a very relaxing place, without the noise of the big cities and the weather is very nice too, so far anyway.
When you are away from the cellar, what do you enjoy doing most?
After work, the best thing is having a long hot shower – after that life can begin.
I love cooking and spending time in the kitchen. I love to discover new flavours and rediscover old tastes and pleasures.
At the moment, I’m reading a lot about permaculture and biodynamic vineyards, which I think will be the new focus in the next few years.
Once harvest is done, I would love to re-establish my social life and travel to other countries to see new landscapes and learn about new cultures – I love travelling.
What other towns in Australia have you visited?
I lived in Adelaide for three months in 2010, and I had some time to visit Sydney, the Gold Coast, Melbourne and the beautiful Great Ocean Road and Yarra Valley.
What are your plans for the future? Will it involve wine?
I have been travelling for two years, so after this vintage I think it will be time for me to settle down and find something permanent.
Travelling and working in other countries has been the best way for me to learn more about wine from the new world and to experience different winemaking philosophies.
Ideally I’d like to find a full time job in a small winery, where I can learn and share with passionate people who make good quality wine, while also respecting the environment in which it’s grown.