28 Mar 2024

Meet Kate Goodman – Australian winemaker of the year at the 2024 Halliday Wine Companion Awards – and Head Winemaker of Penley Estate in Coonawarra. Soul and personality imbue her wines, made without deferring to the region’s blockbuster red reputation.

Kate is set to join us at Tasting Australia for drinks masterclass, SA Great: SA's Proud Place in the World of Fine Wine, where you can learn about, and taste icons of the state’s wine industry. Before Tasting Australia, learn more about Kate's career, thoughts on South Australia's place in the industry, and the one wine she hopes to try.

What was your first goal on arrival at Coonawarra’s Penley Estate?

The most important thing was to get up close and personal with the vineyard. To begin to understand its potential, learn the soil profiles, the strengths and weaknesses. Mind you, this is not a quick thing and takes multiple seasons.

So a different way of looking at this question is, what did I want to achieve with the wines? The most immediate thing that comes to mind was the ability to express the vineyard in the wine, to reduce the imprint of winemaking and give more energy and freshness along with introducing some more contemporary offerings 

How does a region so well known for powerful reds evolve its offering?

Thinking outside the main road, allowing all personalities an opportunity to shine. Looking over the fence to other regions and experimenting. Asking questions, can my Cabernet be made into an earlier drinking style? Would my cab franc work in both a traditional red blend and a fresh energetic early release style? However, it’s not always about making something new, sometimes you just need fresh eyes on what you are already doing. 

What do you find the most exciting aspect of winemaking?

The actual ‘making of it ‘, creating something new every year, that is related to the past but a little different. Walking vineyards, tasting grapes and forming a picture in your mind of the potential.

Do accolades such as the Halliday Wine Companion Australian Winemaker of the Year 2024 make you more or less likely to experiment in the winery? 

I firmly believe that better wine is made when you push a little harder, so I don’t think this accolade really influences the desire to experiment. I just want to keep making delicious wine regardless of the style. That said its pretty nice to get an external pat on the back to say 'we see you and like what you are doing'. 

Name a wine you hope to try – and where you would enjoy it.

For me wine is best shared with friends, it’s the supporting act to a great life. Taittinger comtes de Champagne blanc de blanc 2012 on a deck overlooking the ocean with a soundtrack of laughter.

How would you describe South Australia’s place in the world of wine?

SA is an exciting and diverse home to so many wine options. Classic world famous shiraz, pristine Riesling, slinky grenache, age worthy Cabernet, complex chardonnay . It is a state with a strong history but also a huge future filled with great personalities.