Not everyone would trade in their only form of transport for a tonne of pinot noir grapes. Thankfully, in 2010, Vanessa Altman waved goodbye to her Nissan Pulsar and welcomed the first fruit into what would become her own project, Switch. Having worked at the organic pioneer Temple Breuer (certified organic way back in 1995, and preservative free for over a decade) since she was 19, Vanessa was craving the autonomy, and one thing, well, led to another.
After a decade and a half at Temple Breuer, Altmann’s project had grown enough to warrant her full-time attention, with fruit being sourced from vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Currency Creek and Langhorne Creek. Altmann’s home has always been the Adelaide Hills, and this is where she established her winery, in humble accommodation on the outskirts of the township of Nairne.
The organic principles of Temple Breuer have remained a guiding principal for Altmann, with all the contracted vineyards certified organic, and indeed all the wines evolving to be preservative free going forward. Though none of this is worn on the sleeve as dogma. “My hopes for Switch have always been multi-layered. Above all, it’s in the drinking – I want to make delicious wines for everyone,” she says – an essentially simple, yet essentially important motivation.
Unlike many of her peers, Altmann hasn’t travelled the world chasing vintages across the hemispheres, rather she has found the world immediately around her to be incredibly rich. And this is one of the things that makes the Switch wines so compelling, sourced from tiny parcels that often don’t fit the established norm of what should be grown where, or indeed what variety should be made in a particular way. This is perhaps no better expressed by her emblematic wine, the ‘Bel Vino Nino Nino’ Pinot Noir, which is sourced from the very uncommon pinot territory of the Eden Valley.