Dry Extract Interview: Peter Gago, chief winemaker at Penfolds, South Australia.

©Photo provided

Peter Gago, chief winemaker at Penfolds, South Australia.

©Photo provided

While Penfolds’ heritage dates back to 1844, the chief winemaker role is a modern-day construct. Peter Gago joined Penfolds in 1989 and in 2002 took over as chief winemaker, only the fourth in the company’s history. He received a Companion of the Order of Australia for service to the wine industry in 2017


The best advice I ever got

Probably from my parents and that is just do what you do well.


My life motto

Try and do what you do well. 


I am currently reading

Geoff Raby’s China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the New Global Order. I am trying to find lots of information, other than what’s in the newspapers, about what’s going on in China. This book puts things in context.


My most played music track

I listen to lots of music so there’s not one track. I am playing the new London Grammar album, California Soil.


If I didn’t do my current job I would be

I would go back to what I was doing before – teaching. I loved it. I left because the grip of the grape took over. The collection become a hobby, the hobby became a career. I didn’t leave teaching because of disenchantment and I’d go back to it tomorrow. 


Skill I don’t currently possess but would like to have 

IT skills. I really need to enhance my IT skills.


My favourite kind of exercise

Well, I used to run quite a bit but I have a personal trainer now who tries to kill me every session. When I get to the gym, I use the cross trainer on high resistance.


I relax while

Listening to music. But also, going to bands. Going out to restaurants, too. There’s nothing better than eating, drinking and sharing things with friends.


I collect

I collect wine. And more wine. And more wine.


My essential newspaper/magazine

I buy a few newspapers. One of life’s great pleasures is the weekend newspaper in one hand and coffee in the other. I do find The World of Fine Wine unbelievable and I read a lot of tech journals. 


My desert-island wine



I have learnt a lot from

Sensory evaluation at Roseworthy (Agricultural College, now part of Adelaide University). It taught us to recognise our blind spots in evaluating wine while recognising what you’re good at, what you’re sort of good at and what you should do, which is keep learning. It was so instructive.


My last meal and sip will be

Salon 1988 with King George whiting caught off Kangaroo Island, simply grilled with a squirt of lemon.