Samuel Renzaglia di Renzo

Top Winemakers

Samuel Renzaglia developed the di Renzo range under his family’s eponymous wine label. That label is based out of their Bathurst vineyard in the O’Connell Valley, while the di Renzo wines are made from fruit sourced from prime growers across the Central Ranges. With an emphasis on early drinkability, Renzaglia picks earlier, aims for less extraction in reds and turns up the skin contact on whites, while neutral vessels are used for maturation. The wines see no additions bar a little sulphur, and they also have nothing taken away, being bottled un-fined and unfiltered.

“O’Connell and the Bathurst area are more or less unheard of winemaking regions,” Renzaglia says. “If I had no strings attached to me, I could easily see myself making wine in Otago, Canberra or Tasmania, but that’s not the world I live in. I was born and raised in this community, and I am committed to giving something back to the place I call home. I’m incredibly privileged to be able to work with my family and benefit from the hard work they’ve put in.”

Renzaglia’s family has been in the wine industry for some time, with his grandparents founding a winery in Alto Pass, Illinois, in 1982. That was unusual, being a ‘dry’ county at the time, and little wine industry in the state to speak of. That spirit of adventure was passed down to his father, Mark, planting the Bella Luna Vineyard with his wife, Sandy, in 1997. That vineyard is in the O’Connell Valley, Bathurst, which is still a sparsely planted cool climate region.

“The concept with the wines is to work with purchased fruit from around the Central Ranges and make wines that are very much driven by style instead of variety. There is a lot of blending in di Renzo, and the ‘Nuovo’ and ‘Murnang’ are the poster siblings of the range – a light red and a textural white.”

Over time, two other sites were planted, now with a total of 5 hectares under vine, consisting of chardonnay, cabernet, shiraz, sangiovese, tempranillo and viognier. Although Renzaglia has always been involved in the family operation, he studied business at the University of Technology Sydney. At the end of those studies in 2016, he returned home to work full-time alongside his father in vineyard and winery.

The winery processes about 40 tonnes each year, half of which goes to the di Renzo range. “I oversee the entirety of the di Renzo wines,” says Renzaglia. “The concept with the wines is to work with purchased fruit from around the Central Ranges and make wines that are very much driven by style instead of variety. There is a lot of blending in di Renzo, and the ‘Nuovo’ and ‘Murnang’ are the poster siblings of the range – a light red and a textural white.”

Renzaglia says that the range was spawned out of his desire to have meaningful input in the business after finishing his studies. “It didn’t take them long to be looking for a way of getting me off their case and refocusing my enthusiasm to have a say about the business,” he says. “Without overhauling my parent’s work, introducing a new label was the clear answer. It was the perfect avenue for my incessant ideation and desires to experiment, as well as a medium for accessing a whole new group of younger wine drinkers, like me, through making wines that are unique and also able to be consumed while young and full of life.”

Sourcing fruit broadly gives Renzaglia the opportunity to work with varieties not planted on the home sites, but perhaps more importantly it lets him experiment stylistically. “All of these wines are made from fruit we pick a little bit earlier than what we would for the Renzaglia Wines. All ferments take place spontaneously, although this is the case with all Renzaglia wines, the wines are unfiltered and un-fined, there’s less extraction and lower alcohol in the finished wines and they’re made to be drunk while young. The wines are very much made to style and there is a lot of blending at play.”

Picking earlier and neutral vessels such as concrete, amphora, foudre, and old puncheons and barriques are employed, says Renzaglia, going on to list the current stable of wines. “Vermentino fermented on skins with some sauv blanc, a light red made from five varieties; a light, smashable claret-style blend of cab sauv, cab franc and merlot; a shiraz sangiovese; chardonnay with a smidgen of skinsy vermentino blended in for texture; and a pinot chard pét-nat.”

The early drinking mission of the label means the peddle is taken off the extractions, but Renzaglia stresses that savouriness is essential for him. “’Nuovo’, our light red is an interesting style that many people are making today, but it’s a style that is very hard to do well. Often, when making light reds, people end up producing wines that are insipid and overly fruity. We have been investing a lot of time and energy in refining methods to build wines that are light and fresh yet savoury at the same time. There needs to be a bitter element that builds a refreshing counterpoint in the wine; acidity has its limits to balance fruit and juiciness. We build this bitter note through calculated stem inclusion… This is the key to making a compelling light red for us.”

Another key factor is sourcing grapes from a zone with limited fruit available, and even fewer who farm the way that the Renzaglia’s do. “We work with fruit purchased from growers whose work we respect, whether they farm organically and regeneratively or they grow alternate varieties that we believe to be the future of Australian viticulture. There’s also a lot of people looking for fruit and this can make it challenging to find growers whose work we respect that also have surplus fruit to sell. Particularly when it comes to alternate varieties – there are only a handful of growers out there.”

Renzaglia currently works with sangiovese, vermentino, graciano, grenache and tempranillo and believes that there needs to be more varieties like these planted. “These are grapes that are well adapted to hot, dry climates and we need to see more of them in our wine landscape. Further, in our own vineyards, we are doing things like mulching, composting, and investing a lot of time and energy in soil health and non-vine vegetation in order to develop a system that is more resilient in the face of the imminent extremes we will face in the future. We very much take a long-term approach towards farming, managing the conditions so it is more resilient in the face of adversity.”

Today, the di Renzo range is very much established in the portfolio, says Renzaglia. “I intend to continue making the six wines that we have into the future. The key will be locking in fruit supply from our favourite growers to make them, and refining the vessels we use to make the wines each year so that consistency becomes more engrained. Obviously, I want to keep improving the wines, and this will come through zeroing in on the details and dialling up the things we like most about each wine and addressing the elements of the wines that we feel we can improve. While we do this, we want to continue delivering great value.”

Bookmark this job

Please sign in or create account as candidate to bookmark this job

Save this search

Please sign in or create account to save this search

create resume

Create Resume

Please sign in or create account as candidate to create a resume