A former naval aviator and international winemaker who’s had a hand in more than 70 million bottles of wine, Adam Richardson is now happily handcrafting small batches of unique wines in the scenic Grampians wine region.
Under his label ATR Wines, Adam produces cool-climate wines that aim to break the mould with innovative blends, alternative varieties and a contemporary take on traditional wines. He’s finally making the wines that reflect himself: bold, complex, dynamic. They’re also the wines he and his family and friends love to drink.
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When he’s not tearing down rocky tracks on a bike or climbing mountains with his family in Victoria’s spectacular Grampians wine region, Adam’s crafting wines that crackle with energy and life.
“What I love about winemaking is creating something that’s a living product,” he says. “From the time I finish making it, it will start to change, and I can look back and remember what it was like, then see how it’s developed in time. That’s exciting to me.”
“I’m at a scale where I can do just about everything myself, with my hands. That’s what I really like doing,” he says.
Handcrafting wines in country Victoria is a long way from where he started. His first career was in the Navy where he became an aviator. In 1995, when he was in his mid-twenties, Adam left to pursue his passion for wine and creativity.
The Perth native found himself living in the US and working in wine, eventually becoming Chief Winemaker for Treasury Wine Estates Americas and Vice President of International Winemaking for The Wine Group in California.
“I got to work with winemakers and viticulturists and wine company owners from around the world – all of the great regions around the world,” he says.
“What I love about winemaking is creating something that’s a living product. From the time I finish making it, it will start to change. That’s exciting to me.” – Adam Richardson
But Adam was ready to create something more personal. His global search for the perfect place to plant a vineyard led him to the Grampians.
He and his wife Eva bought land in 2005, and Adam spent the next 11 years travelling between countries, planting vines, improving the vineyard and making his first batches of wine. In 2016, Adam, Eva and their two kids moved to the Grampians permanently.
“It really feels like I’ve been here my whole life,” says Adam.
“I’ve made wine around the world with hundreds of different winemakers, with hundreds of different varieties. But growing my own grapes is taking a step into the unknown, and I love that.”
Article first published with Australian Wine