A small boutique winery that is situated in the picturesque Adelaide Hills, XO Wine Co. by Greg Clack and Kate Horstmann takes pride in producing quality wine, the flavours of which are inspired by their travel adventures and passion around winemaking.
In anticipation of their appearance at the upcoming Gathered SA Markets next weekend (March 30 + 31), I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with Greg and Kate via Jenna O’Dell (owner of Gathered SA) – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Who are the faces behind XO Wine?
Greg & Kate: Greg grew up in the Adelaide Hills and started his winemaking career in McLaren Vale at Haselgrove Wines, eventually venturing back to the hills to become Chain of Ponds winemaker. The combination of these roles developed his passion for Shiraz and Grenache from McLaren Vale and the refined cool climate styles from the Adelaide Hills. Having worked in the wine industry for over 15 years, he still has the determination to push the boundaries, whereby he trials new techniques regularly, while respecting the traditional and modern methods of winemaking.
Kate’s winemaking path began when she was traveling the world in her early 20’s. Some of Kate’s fondest memories include drinking Bollinger at the Royal Ascot races and venturing through France and Spain, tasting wines whose names were unpronounceable – experiences like these first ignited her love affair with wine. Upon returning to the Adelaide Hills after a couple of years abroad, Kate realized a career in wine was the way forward and enrolled in a Bachelor of Oenology and Viticulture at Adelaide University. Fast forward a few years to when Kate and Greg met and XO Wine Co. is born!
Tema: How long have you been running XO Wine for? How have you found the journey of your business so far?
Greg & Kate: 2019 was our third full vintage! We have had a lot of fun in the process and have enjoyed it so far. It has been a lot of weekends and late nights to work around our full time jobs, but it’s been well worth the effort, especially when we sit and enjoy the wines that we have produced from scratch.
Tema: How did you come up with the name XO Wine?
Greg & Kate: XO was derived from the board game naughts and crosses – two different letters can be rearranged in a number of different ways, which results in a multitude of outcomes. When X or O are aligned, then the outcome is a winner. Wine can be viewed the same way – when the elements align, such as the growing season, vineyard, winemaking, oak choice, blending (to name a few), then the outcome is spectacular. If the elements are arranged slightly differently, then the outcome is still fun and enjoyable and that is what makes wine so alluring.
Tema: What would you say about XO Wine to someone who may not have heard of you before?
Greg & Kate: We are a two-person brand, where all the work is done between the two of us – winemaking, bottling, sales etc. We produce micro / small parcels of fruit into wine, which we are very passionate about. This shines through in the quality of the wines that are produced as XO Wine Co.
Tema: How do you decide on the range of flavours offered by XO Wine?
Greg & Kate: All varieties that we make are varieties that we enjoy drinking ourselves on a regular occasion. We are particularly fond of Burgundy in France and Piedmont in Italy, which explains the focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with Barbera and Nebbiolo. Other regions and wines that we were particularly are fond of during our travels have been Gigondas and Provence, while Riesling is almost always in our fridge at home.
Tema: What does the creative process look like?
Greg & Kate: Tasting, tasting and more tasting! During the course of the year, while we are enjoying wines, we are constantly evaluating them at the same time. We discuss what we like about the wine and what we would like to see more of, in our wines. Come around to vintage and we will tweak the winemaking process ever so slightly each year to push wines in the direction of styles we like.
Tema: How long does it take you to produce the range of wine (on average)?
Greg & Kate: For the Riesling and Rosé, we will pick them in early March and have the wine ready for bottling in early June. The reds, on the other hand, require a little more maturation time and we prefer to have some bottle age on them prior to release. The fresh and vibrant styles (such as Barbera and Tempranillo) will be released roughly about 12 months after harvest, with the more full-bodied wines (such as Shiraz) released going into Autumn/Winter the following year.
Tema: Where can people purchase your wine – do you have a cellar door or are you stocked across bottle shops in Adelaide / SA?
Greg & Kate: We currently don’t have a cellar door, but are working on options for the future. In the mean time, our wines can be purchased through the website www.xowineco.com.au or through selected independent bottle shops around Adelaide.
Tema: How did you get involved with Gathered SA?
Greg & Kate: Having visited one of the markets in the past, we thought that it would be a great opportunity to get our brand out there. So, we made contact with Jenna via Instagram about the possibility of being a vendor and that’s how we ended up becoming part of the Gathered SA market family.
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience, when they purchase from XO Wine?
Greg & Kate: We hope that our customers can enjoy our wine as much as we enjoy making them. We love to see people sitting with friends and enjoying our wines, which is what drives us to constantly push ourselves to perfect our drops.
Tema: What do you think is rewarding about being a small scale business in SA?
Greg & Kate: There is definitely a lot of support for small business in Adelaide. People are genuinely interested in seeking out and helping new and small businesses. The support has been great. We try and return the favour – both as a small business and in our personal lives – whenever we can.
Tema: What do you think may be challenging about being a small scale business in SA?
Greg & Kate: Being a small scale new winery in Adelaide is great, although, by being in one of Australia’s largest wine producing states, the competition is high for shelf space and on wine lists. Other than that, everyone has been very supportive and we are very appreciative of everyone who has taken time to meet with us.
Tema: What do you think helps your business stand out from the rest?
Greg & Kate: As we are a team of two, we put everything into the business and aim to provide a more personalized experience. The wines are handmade from the beginning to the end and by supporting us, you are allowing us to continue to bring more interesting wines to you each year, while helping put food on our table.
Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photos supplied by Greg Clack & Kate Horstmann
With thanks to Jenna O’Dell from Gathered SA