From oil exploration to award-winning wine maker, Pepper Tree founder John Davis is in his innovating element

Grape expectations: John Davis is excited about the release of Pepper Tree’s 2016 Wrattonbully and Coonawarra reds in July. Where were you raised and what or who influenced your career choices?
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I was raised in Sydney and educated at Sydney University. My interest in the oil exploration industry was influenced by the big oil discoveries in the 1950’s when huge fortunes were made overnight. I thought it was a very exciting business and I went on to do a PhD in geology not to go into academia but to get the best technical education possible to make me successful as an oil finder. My interest in wine started while I was at university and on my first trip to the Hunter in 1970 I met Murray Tyrrell who was just starting his cellar door business. I was very impressed with his vision, innovation and energy. He was in a class of his own and had the biggest influence on my early interest in wine.

John DavisYour production level?

About 45,000 cases, and 10-15 per cent is exported. Our aim is to boost exports by another 5000 to 10,000 cases to give us a more reliable spread of income.

What is in the pipeline?

The most exciting event for us will be the release of our 2016 Wrattonbully and Coonawarra reds in July. The 2016 vintage was brilliant. We believe that our Single Vineyard reds are the best wines we have yet made from the Wrattonbully vineyard in particular.

Pepper Tree receiveda red 5-star rating in the 2018 James Halliday Wine Companion. How big a deal is that to you?

James Halliday’sstanding as a wine judge is recognised throughout the world not just in so his ratings are very important to any serious n producer.

Best bit about your job?

Making improvement in our vineyards and watching the results at harvest time.

The bit you’d love to ignore?

Any dealings with politicians or government instrumentalities. It is depressing to work in an industry that has to defend itself against the mindless incompetence of both major political parties who think their role is to gauge as much tax as possible and create endless compliance obligations while lending zero support to what is one ’s most important current and future industries.

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