Xanthe Hatcher believes winemaking is an industry that exudes love and passion. The Hunter Valley winemaker has put her heart and soul into a career that is well and truly taking off.
At just 32-years-old, Hatcher has established herself as a rising star in the wine world. As well as gaining national accolades with her nomination for the Wine Society young winemaker of the year, Hatcher has been offered the opportunity to sit as a judge at the Hunter Valley Wine Show this year. Emilie Reynolds had a chat to the inspiring young winemaker about what drives her passion for wine.
Born and raised in Dural and Glenorie in New South Wales, Xanthe Hatcher always knew her love of science would shape her future career.
Although as a teenager she was unsure about which path to take, a few adventures with her folks brought Hatcher the clarity she needed.
“In my early teenage years I remember going on road trips with my parents visiting wine regions,” she said. “I always thought they were beautiful places and that winemaking seemed like a really interesting and diverse career.”
With her mind made up, Hatcher left school and enrolled in a viticulture and winemaking degree from the University of Western Sydney.
“My career in the Hunter Valley wine industry began in 2009,” she explained. “I was living in Sydney and managing a wine store when I came to the Hunter for work experience during the 2009 vintage. I absolutely loved it and knew then that I had to pursue my dream of becoming a winemaker.”
Just a few weeks later, Hatcher left her job in Sydney and moved to the Hunter.
Since then, Hatcher has completed seven vintages in the Hunter Valley and one unforgettable experience in the Alentejo region of Portugal.
Currently working as a winemaker for Agnew Wines, Hatcher said she has often been inspired by the people who surround her.
“I am fortunate in working for a great company with some of the finest fruit not only in the Hunter Valley, but also a number of Australia’s great regions.
“The wine industry has afforded me passions of the head and the heart,” she said. “It’s an industry full of incredibly passionate people whom invest their life in their work.”
Hatcher said she has even been lucky enough to meet her soulmate through the wine community in Hunter.
“During the adventure of making some of Australia’s best Chardonnay, and all that comes with it, I found love,” she said. “I met my husband Michael Hatcher, a fellow winemaker.
“I figured that if you still want to be around someone after a long vintage working together then domestic challenges seem insignificant.”
In a quirky twist of fate, Hatcher discovered an incredible coincidence that linked the pair in history.
“Just before Michael and I were married, we just happened to discuss our family histories,” she explained. “Upon Michael revealing his fifth generation grandfather was James Squire (first person to commercially grow hops and brew beer in Australia), I remembered seeing that name in some of my family archives.
“I investigated and it appears that my grandfather of the same time was great mates with James Squire, being larrikins together and on the public record for receiving stolen property.”
Apart from winemaking, Hatcher said her other passion lies in cooking, a skill that goes hand in hand with winemaking.
“I love to cook for my husband, family and friends,” she said. “Good wine is best enjoyed with good food and vice versa.”
Clearly embracing a creative life and all of the opportunities thrown at her, Hatcher said the winemaking industry was one “you enter into for love and passion”.
“One of my biggest achievements to date was being asked to judge at the Hunter Wine Show,” she said. “I felt incredibly humbled that I was seen to have the skills to be able to judge my peer’s wines, it really showed me that I had become part of the industry.”
Hatcher said she couldn’t see herself leaving the Hunter Valley in the future and would be happy with a long and successful career in the region.
“Whilst the Hunter is arguably the best region in Australia, it is certainly the best region to be a winemaker,” she said. “I still have a lot to learn but I hope to become a great Hunter winemaker.”
To other aspiring young winemakers, Hatcher said although it may be tough to get started, the long terms benefits mean you never have to work a day in your life.
“It may seem hard to ‘get in the door’ sometimes, but it is an industry that is incredibly rewarding,” she said. “I love working amongst like-minded people and find that it is a lifestyle more than a job.”