Meet the makers

Gwyn Olsen – Briar Ridge and Gwyn Olsen wines

Introducing one of Hunter Valley's brightest shining stars

Gwyn received the prestigious Gourmet Traveller Wine’s Young Winemaker Medal in 2014, and is a respected winemaker in the Australian wine industry.

 

Gwyn studied Oenology at Roseworthy University in Adelaide, graduating in 2005 before working three vintages in France – Languedoc, St Emillion and Burgundy. From there Gwyn worked a further six vintages in New Zealand, and quickly rose through the ranks from Assistant winemaker at Villa Maria to become their Operations Manager.

 

"Initially, I was inspired to get into the world of winemaking because I had a love of activity and travel! I was searching for career options, and after realising that I did not want to be a biochemist, winemaking sounded great with it’s applied science, active work and ever-changing seasons!" she recalls. 

 

 

 

Blessed with an incredible palate, Gwyn was named ‘Dux’ of the Australian Wine Research Institute’s Advanced Wine Assessment Course in 2012, and was described as an ‘individual with exceptional judging skills’. As a result, Gwyn now judges at six wine shows throughout Australia, including two National Wine Shows – Adelaide and Melbourne.

 

In 2017 Gwyn was selected as part of the 2017 Future Leaders program coordinated by Wine Australia in partnership with the Winemakers' Federation of Australia (WFA) and Australian Vignerons. This program is designed to develop participants' leadership capabilities and encourage innovation and thoughtful debate on the future of the sector.

 

In late 2015, Gwyn became the Head Winemaker for Peppertree Wines in the Hunter Valley, where she also oversees entire production of boutique winery Briar Ridge  as well as crafting her Gwyn Olsen wines exclusively for us! 

 

Briar Ridge Wine

Nestled amongst the rolling hills of Mount View, Briar Ridge is an iconic vineyard producing a rich blend of Hunter classics and modern marvels from South Australia. The winery itself has been rated a 5 Red Star winery by James Halliday himself, so a must-visit if you are ever in the Hunter!

 

Briar Ridge's philosophy is to produce world-class wines from premium estate grown vineyards and enhance the fruit quality through careful vineyard management. This is exactly what they've achieved with their elegant Coonawarra Cabernet Merlot which continues to impress with every vintage. Displaying a textural and elegant palate. Merlot provides sweet fruit to the mid-palate and balances the subdued oak and grape tannins on the finish.
Not only do Briar Ridge produce wines that capture the magic of the Coonawarra, but through Gwyn's stewardship, they also craft exquisite wines from Wrattonbully such as a luscious Merlot and generous fruit-filled Chardonnay.

 

Gwyn Olsen Wines

 "Playful with a touch of magic" is how Gwyn describes her own-name label wines with Cellarmasters. This colour range includes a classic Hunter Valley Chardonnay and tantalising Rose but pushes the envelope with its two examples of preservative-free and vegan-friendly field blend wines.

 

“These field blends are artistic expressions of my winemaking, and a great opportunity to showcase what we can do with the areas that we source fruit from,” Gwyn explained. Gwyn’s red field blend is made with a mix of Merlot, Malbec, Aglianico and Barbera grapes, and the white field blend is a mix of Fiano, Viognier, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris all from a vineyard in Wrattonbully, a wine region in South Australia situated between the Padthaway and Coonawarra regions.

 

“I wanted to create field blends because I believe they showcase the vineyard site irrespective of the grape variety. They express the region and soils they are grown in without having to ‘be’ any one type of wine,” she said.

 

You can explore the full range here.

Winemaking Philosophy?

Gwyn has a positive outlook on the future even with ongoing climate crises.

 

"I hope we all continue to make sustainable, delicious wine that speaks of time and place. 2020 is going to be an extremely difficult year for the Australian wine industry, with a lot of producers in NSW dealing with extreme drought and smoke exposure in their fruit," she says.

 

"The ongoing climate change means that we have to get better and smarter at what we are doing – ensuring that we have the right varieties planted and the right management practices in place for both vineyard and winery to ensure things run to their best, efficient and sustainable way."