With Australia’s Yarrunga Field in the spotlight, we caught up with super-talented Sam Trimboli … a.k.a. the grape whisperer!
When did customers first meet you, Sam?
I was a shy 17-year-old when I first met Tony in 1985, and remember feeling sorry for this pale English guy walking around in 40°C heat. I was junior but he spent ages talking to me about his customers and how important trust is. It inspired me, meeting someone from the other side of the world who was so interested in quality.
My first Durif for you won lots of awards and my old boss was so delighted he bought me new plates for my car. DURIF. I still have them, I was really stoked!
Then Yarrunga Field was on BBC TV, called “sunshine in a glass”. I remember a customer telling me it was her “breakfast wine” … she said it fair dinkum reminded her of those big breakfast buffets of tropical fruit on holiday in Fiji or Bali. Now I call it my breakfast wine too!
Tony calls you the grape whisperer …
Yes, mate, he always tells me I just have a natural gift for wine, which is very kind of him. My parents drilled into me about doing it right and not cutting corners. They were bakers so they understood hard work but also patience.
How did you get started in wine?
Growing up in a family of bakers was great … less so setting my alarm to 3am each morning. When I left school at 15 I fell in with my school mates who were all from grape-growing families. We just loved being outside and it was hard work but when you’re young you hardly notice.
Being self-taught is pretty rare?
When I started in the vineyards I wasn’t old enough to drink wine so making it hadn’t crossed my mind. But as I grew older I fell in love with wine … and the winery is 20°C cooler on a hot day, too!
I worked my way up, listening to every single thing the older guys said, and remember I grew up with all the local growers. It’s hard for a corporate winery to turn up and buy the best grapes … whatever they might think is happening. Because it’s a big family here and most deals are done over a cold beer. If I can get my hands on the best grapes in town then making great wine gets a whole lot easier!
What’s coming next from Sam?
My wife is from Argentina so we mostly holiday there and I’ve done work there making Malbec. Lately my cousin Frank has been growing Malbec locally and promised me first dibs when it’s ready, and cousin Sam grows Shiraz in South Australia (Mt Lofty). I reckon if we get Malbec working with Shiraz and Durif it could go nuclear. Off the Richter, mate, and wait until you seen the label that combines us three cousins together.
I’ll tell Tony first when it’s ready. He really put me on the right track all those years ago and I can’t thank the Laithwaite’s customers enough for sticking up for quality wine.
Thanks Sam, great to talk.
You can find Sam’s famous Yarrunga Field white here.