Louisa Rose

Chief Winemaker, Yalumba


    B App Sc (Wine Science),  Adelaide University’s Roseworthy Campus

    Louisa Rose is the Chief Winemaker at Yalumba and Hill Smith Family Vineyards, where she has worked for more than 30 years. The Yalumba winery is located in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, where the climate, Louisa says, is “perfect for growing grapes.”

    Grapes were introduced to Australia from Europe and South Africa. Though they're not a native species, grapes thrive in dry Australian climates.

    The warm, dry summers in Barossa are a protective boone against disease in the vineyards. But there is another reason Yalumba’s grapes are so healthy, an essential contributor to the overall make-up of Yalumba wines and, therefore, to the way that they taste. 

    That piece? 


    The idea of “wild wine” is central to the philosophy behind Yalumba’s Y Series of youthful wines, which emphasize sustainability and the importance of biodiversity in winemaking, and which supports Re:wild’s mission to protect and restore the wild.

    “I think the only way that you can have a really healthy farm, or healthy environment, is for it to have biodiversity,” Louisa says, “A biodiverse system looks after itself.”

    Yalumba’s vineyards benefit from being part of a rich ecosystem. Native grasses and shrubs grow between, around, and under the grapevines, creating a cooler environment than the bare soil vineyards of old-fashioned viticulture, which reflect more heat. 

    “By letting those grasses die off and act as natural mulches, you're retaining more moisture in your soil,” Louisa says.

    In Yalumba’s vineyards natural predators like birds, wasps, and spiders keep caterpillar populations in check. Yalumba wines are cultured with native yeasts: fungi that grow wild in Yalumba vineyards, and which later becomes an essential player in the fermentation process.

    “That native yeast, or those wild yeasts, as we often talk about them, are really healthy growing in our vineyards because of the biodiversity,” Louisa says.

     These yeasts are unique to the regions of South Australia where they grow, which means that Yalumba wines taste like wine made nowhere else in the world — it is not inaccurate to say that wine tastes like the region the grapes, and the yeasts, were grown in. 

    That is why a sommelier (or a wine taster) with a sensitive palate might be able to pinpoint the country or region a specific wine originated from. It also means that when you have a glass of Yalumba wine in the evening, you’re getting a little taste of South Australia.

    “We utilize nature and its biodiversity to make what we think are more complex and more interesting wines,” Louisa says. “By having the natural predators in the vineyard, and having perfect weather conditions, we get healthy grapes with very little disease in them. We haven't had to take out any undesirable flavors. That’s why we believe our wines are more flavorful and more textural and, ultimately, more interesting.”

    Yalumba wines are also 100% vegan. For hundreds of years, winemakers have used milk and egg whites yolks, for example, to soften the flavors of the wine — to pull out some of the tannins, and reduce the overall bitterness of the drink. Thanks to biodiversity, Yalumba vineyards are so healthy that its wine remains, as Louisa says, “wild.” 

    Louisa grew up in Melbourne. Her parents had a small vineyard in Yarra Valley, where Louisa spent weekends and school holidays learning how to care for the vineyard and the surrounding property.

    “I loved working and watching the vines grow, watching the nature around it. My Saturdays in winter were always outside pruning, and it was just me and a radio.”

    For Louisa, making and tasting wine is wrapped up in themes of memory. She enjoyed science in school and loved working in her parents’ vineyard, and those two things combined are what led her to study winemaking at an agricultural college that is now part of Adelaide University. She started working at Yalumba after that, and has been there through 32 vintages — making wine, and memories.