Q&A with Eddie McDougall AKA The Flying Winemaker
There’s a reason why award-winning winemaker, Eddie McDougall, is called The Flying Winemaker. He’s made wines in the Clare Valley, Yarra Valley, Bannockburn, Margaret River, Barolo, South of France, Ningxia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand — phew! And if he could add one more to the list, it’d be the Douro Valley in Portugal for the phenomenal reds. We sat down with Eddie (who also happens to be a wine judge, columnist and TV personality) to talk about the future of wine, the best advice he’s been given, his go-to Spotify list and vino trends to look out for in 2020.
What inspired you to become a winemaker?
Well, it was back in my undergrad university days in Brisbane where I was working in the hospitality industry. There was one night, after a very tough shift, my old boss poured me a glass of a left over bottle of pinot blanc from Alsace. It flicked the switch. I was completely amazed by the flavours of this wine. I didn’t even drink or like wine back then. When the wine hit my tongue, it was like a light bulb went off and at that point, I turned to my colleague next to me and said, “holy shit, I need to learn how to make this!”
The next day I enrolled myself into a postgrad wine science and viticulture degree.
If you were a wine, what would you be and why?
Nebbiolo, made in Barolo. Shy in its youth, perfumed, savoury and floral, all at the same time. And definitely better with age.
If you weren't a winemaker, what would you be?
Wow, I have never thought about that. If I had to choose then I would say a full-time house husband.
What's your go-to Spotify playlist?
This might sound bizarre but I am totally digging the classical music playlist on Spotify. During my commutes between flights, meetings or working in amongst my vines in New Zealand, I find it puts me in a good state of mind. The playlist also includes the title track from Game of Thrones which is awesome!
Tell us the best advice you've been given.
Festina Lente, Latin for, make haste slowly.
What's the last book you read?
Waisale Serevi’s biography by Nic Darveniza. Waisale is the greatest Rugby Sevens player in history and was a childhood sporting hero of mine. It’s great if you like rugby.
What are your favourite wine trends emerging this year?
I think Cava is going to make a surge in the fizzy wine world. It’s got all the components of good Champagne, half the price and just as sophisticated.
What are your top 3 tips for wine beginners?
Taste a lot of different wines to broaden the horizons.
Meet winemakers and ask dumb questions.
Go on wine holidays.
What does the future of wine look like?
Challenging times ahead with people opting for healthy options or non-alcoholic beverages. Winemakers will need to work harder to make better wines which are less about commercial outputs and more about a site's unique expressions.