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Inside the Barrel: Gerry Rowland - An Aussie in Cali

Growing up in South Australia with a grape-farming father in a valley full of vineyards, Gerry Rowland’s choice of career was pretty inevitable. He earned his viticulture and oenology degree from Australia's Roseworthy College in 1981 and worked in Barossa Valley for 6 years before crossing the Pacific Ocean to attend University of California, Davis, and get his hands dirty in California’s Napa Valley.

450 years later

In 1991, after four years at Napa Valley’s Stags Leap Winery, Gerry decided to introduce his own wine label to the market. With help from his wife Linda, he looked into his family history for inspiration and guidance and found out that he was responsible for a 450-year-old legacy. Turned out that Gerry’s German ancestors were producing wines carrying the Ramspeck family crest on their labels as early as 1537. "With a family tradition beginning four and half centuries ago it adds a little extra weight on your shoulders to do it right" Gerry says. That’s probably why this dedicated Aussie wanders his vineyards at night to check up on his harvests.

From soil to bottle

Rowland is a hands-on guy, in fact, he is so hands-on that every bottle that comes from Rowland Cellars has been managed by Gerry personally - vineyard to consumer. He manages the vineyards he sources fruit from, he oversees the process of the wine being made until it reaches the bottle, corks are pitted and foil is wrapped around its neck. And hold on, he does marketing and sales too. Rowland Cellars produces around 10 000 cases a year, so it’s a pretty big job for one man to handle. That’s right, Gerry Rowland is no one-trick pony, he is wine superman.

What delicious really means

Gerry Rowland has during his career launched several labels (Ramspeck, Cenay among others) and he is known for saying that his trademark is the "delicious factor, rather than the wow factor". Not so long ago I read that his wines are not "score grabbers", but allow me to say: ahem, have you tried our 2007 Midnight Rambler? There’s a reason this well rounded, velvety textured Cabernet Sauvignon is our staff pick! What I’m saying is: with a today 475-year-old wine heritage, you sort of know what delicious really means.

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