The Former and the Latta

The Australian wine industry is like a big extended family filled with deep-rooted connections that weave themselves in surprising ways all over the country.

Curated by wine writer Max Allen, Max wanted to bring all of Australia’s most influential winemaking families into one room. You will do the wandering, they will do the pouring, as they share stories about their unique histories.

One winemaking dynasty with a particularly interesting tale are the Lattas.

Norman Latta (founder and ex-winemaker at Eastern Peake Vineyard near Ballarat) initially started out by supplying grapes to the wine industry, including to the late Trevor Mast (winemaker at Best’s, Mount Langi Ghiran). Working closely with such an inspiring winemaker ultimately led him to take the plunge from contract grape growing to winemaking in 1995, under Mast's mentorship.

Norman speaks about a sense of comradery and ‘sharing of knowledge’ between winemakers in Western Victoria during this era. It was Mast who encouraged Norman to make wine himself and assisted with supplying a de-stemmer and basket press.

An accident during vintage in 1999 led to Norman's son Owen being thrown into the winemaking deep-end as a teenager, who has since taken the reins at the winery as well as producing wines under his own label Latta Vino.

Norman reminisces about Owen’s heavy schedule that would see him plunging grapes before school each day as a fifteen-year-old, with Norman taking a backward step after temporarily losing his sense of balance and smell in a fall during vintage.

Eastern Peake specialises in chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz that reflect a true sense of place and produces one of Australia’s finest examples of rosé made with extended lees contact to enhance complexity.

Owen’s Latta Vino is more of a dedicated exploration through ‘untinkered’ winemaking: unfined, unfiltered wines made with little or no additives. The grapes are sourced from across western Victoria from low intervention farmers through long existing relationships initiated by their dear friend Trevor Mast.

Meet Owen and other influential winemakers as you taste their wines and listen to anecdotes revealing the many connections and influences in Australian wine that in some cases can be traced back to legendary winemakers in the early 20th century.

Makers and Muses, Sunday 9th April, The House of Food & Wine