After 2 years in and out of COVID lockdowns and ever-changing restrictions, Gapsted Wines has emerged with a fresh new management team and an eagerness to take the winery, cellar door and restaurant to the next level.
Joining the winery in November last year, Andrew Santarossa, with 25 years of wine industry experience across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and The Americas, stepped into the role of CEO and Chief Winemaker with gusto, inspiring a pandemic-weary team into action with big ideas and plans for the future of Gapsted Wines.
“I saw the opportunities here in the King and Alpine Valleys - the rich diversities of micro-climates and the ability to expand upon the strong foundation that Gapsted Wines has for alternative and emerging varieties. I’m looking forward to developing on that with the team here - a team that’s got a wealth of experience and are so passionate about what they do”.
As an experienced wine show judge on both the local and national circuit, Mr Santarossa says we can expect to see some exceptional wines come out of Gapsted this vintage.
“Even though it’s been a rollercoaster of a vintage, what we’re seeing in terms of our sparkling and white wines, it’s very exciting. Yields will be down slightly, but quality will be excellent. With the cooler growing season, reds are a little bit away, but the benefit of an extended growing season is you get intensity and concentration of flavours and better tannin balance, so we’re quietly confident that the reds will follow in the same light as the sparkling and white wines.”
Mr Santarossa, who has worked at wineries such as Giant Steps, Chandon, Mitchelton, Cloudy Bay and Cape Mentelle, is also looking forward to expanding the food and wine experience at Gapsted Wines.
“We’re looking at the next steps for improving our customer experience. Those plans are in their infancy, but now that things have opened up again, we have a unique opportunity with our location, where this part of the world is a playground 12 months of the year. We’re looking at how we can expand on the rail trail that comes past the property, it’s a really unique location in the Alpine Valleys”.
Catherine Baker joined the team as Cellar Door & Restaurant Manager at the end of 2021 and brings bubbling enthusiasm, a swathe of fresh ideas and a welcoming vibe to the restaurant and cellar door.
“I just love working with food and wine, it’s such a perfect marriage and they are two things that Gapsted Wines do really, really well. It’s what attracted me to the role. That and the amazing scenery. I still have to pinch myself that this is my ‘office’”.
After a paired-back offering over the past two years, the cellar door and restaurant team are more than ready to get back to doing what they love.
“We are all really looking forward to holding events again and bringing this place back to life with happy, smiling people enjoying beautiful wine and food, we’ve all missed that over the last 2 years. I want to bring live music back to the winery, and have so many ideas on creating special events, like a High Tea to celebrate on Mother’s Day and more opportunities to picnic on our beautiful grounds…you can’t beat that stunning view, we just want to take advantage of it as much as we can.”
While the team are gearing up for a busy Autumn, a visually spectacular time in the High Country, they are also very eager to reconnect with their local community.
“While we love promoting our beautiful region and welcoming tourists through our doors, we also want to be a welcoming place for our locals to catch up for lunch, hold celebrations or even enjoy their morning coffee with delicious cake.”
“I’m also really excited about the autumn menu, I’ve loved being a part of the whole building process, looking at the wines that are going to match and envisaging people enjoying the food.”
Head Chef Leon Dammenhayn is the most recent addition to the team and brings a wealth of experience, having spent 10 years working in Europe, specifically Switzerland, Germany and Holland. He is thrilled to be working with a team that is so passionate about food and wine, and having access to so many quality ingredients from the local area to work with.
“My first project has been designing the Autumn Taste of Season menu. I had ideas coming in and it’s been such a positive experience working them up with the team and seeing them come to life.”
“This new menu is regionally influenced, using lots of local produce, it’s quite traditional food with a European/Australian twist. I’m sourcing local venison to serve with baked polenta & radicchio salad. I’m really excited about the local cheeses, we’re working with Tolpuddle to get their goats cheese on board.”
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