It’s not an unfamiliar story for a top sommelier or restaurant/bar owner to be lured into decamping from their night job and setting up shop on the other side of the fence, making wine. Nor is it uncommon for a sommelier to dabble in making wine, to greater and lesser degrees. What is less typical,…
Sacha La Forgia Adelaide Hills Distillery
Adelaide Hills Distillery founder, Sacha La Forgia started making alcoholic beverages somewhat on the early side, with a pre-legal career in fashioning garden-shed beer, cider, wine and spirits with his father. This was no illicit hooch operation, but rather an extension of his Italian heritage and a means to bond with his dad. When La Forgia was 16, he worked a vintage with Samantha Connew at Wirra Wirra, and that was that. Winemaking at university followed, but being somewhat restless, he embarked on a global winemaking blitz, even hitting seven vintages in two years – almost eight, but the last one, in Burgundy, fell through at the last minute.
While indulging his wanderlust in Friuli, La Forgia had a bit of an epiphany making grappa with his mentor there, Bruno. Clearly obsessed by turning the fermented into the distilled, Bruno questioned why he didn’t set up a distillery back home, in Adelaide. The lights went on, and La Forgia returned home, submitted a license application and, clearly being the eager sort, set about making his own still before said license had been fully processed. His still, named Fleur, was fashioned out of recycled materials, random bits of cooper and the like that could be acquired with the frugal resources at his disposal. And thus, Adelaide Hills Distillery was born. Fleur’s handmade seals weren’t quite up to the job, springing more than a few leaks when in action, but nonetheless, she was responsible for some of La Forgia’s breakthrough distillates, winning many accolades.
Combining his love for wine with his distilling obsession, La Forgia has branched out into the intricate world of vermouth. In the search for beneficial matches, he carefully balances local base wines with herbs, fruits, flowers and roots, employing native ingredients in harmony with a retro supply of 1960s vermouth spicing imported from Torino. Grenache informs the base for the Rosso Vermouth, while chenin blanc supports the botanicals for the Dry and Rosé Vermouths, with the latter supplemented by a little McLaren Vale grenache and shiraz to add both blush and flavour.