With the acquisition of a home vineyard, Vinteloper has evolved from a label cherry picking fruit from various South Australian regions into a roster of wines that reflect their home in the Adelaide Hills, Alyson Tannenbaum now pulls the winemaking levers in David Bowley’s operation, crafting everything from their Adelaide-Hills-centric White Label range (which still includes a Langhorne Creek touriga – a bit of a classic for them) to the aspirational wax-capped Odeon bottlings, right down to the opposite end of the spectrum with their crown-sealed Park Wines, which are bottled in 500 ml beer bottles.
Before Alyson Tannenbaum was thrown the keys to the Vinteloper winery by David Bowley, she had accrued a staggering amount of experience and qualifications – a seeming lifetime swag of accomplishments, accrued over much less time, much, much less. Diverting out of a career as a water engineer, Tannenbaum furthered her appreciation for more intoxicating fluids after a vintage job in 2013 at Wirra Wirra, in McLaren Vale. That led to more vintages, and a just a little bit more education. Today, she is Bowley’s winemaker, with a more or less free hand in the shed.
After qualifying as a civil and environmental engineer with a Diploma of Project Management, Tannenbaum was well and truly into a career when the wine bug did what it so often does and snatched her out of the jaws of stable and no doubt financially rewarding career to haul hoses around wineries for several years. From that first vintage at Wirra Wirra with Paul Carpenter, she worked as a cellar hand at Yangarra, also in McLaren Vale, as well as at the Yarra’s Coldstream Hills, Stonestreet Estate, in the Alexander Valley, USA, and Greystone, in Waipara, NZ. Up the pecking order, she worked as a winemaker at Carneros Hills Winery, in the Sonoma Valley, USA, and for a vintage at Yalumba, in the Barossa Valley, before working as a full-time winemaker at Cape Jaffa Wines, in Mount Benson.
In that time, Tannenbaum also managed to attain her Master of Oenology degree, graduated the AWRI’s Advanced Wine Assessment Course, completed her WSET 3 Award and, for good measure, completed the Certificate II Foreign Language Studies in Italian – she likes the idea of going to Piedmont. You get the impression that Tannenbaum likes wine a little bit. “Wine is more than a beverage. It is science and an art with the power to emotionally move people. …It is a moving picture, giving insight into a place at a point in time, and then moves forward into the future with you. I’m still entranced by the magic of wine,” she says.
At Vinteloper, Bowley, entrusts Tannenbaum with the ranges that he has nurtured over the last decade and a bit, with the brand now firmly ensconced in the Adelaide Hills, where they settled into their home vineyard in 2018, between Lenswood and Lobethal, at about 500 metres elevation. That Bowley has invested so much faith in Tannenbaum rests not just in her skills but also a deeply shared ethos.
“We experiment, push the boundaries, rethink our practices and challenge common belief. Quality [at Vinteloper], however, is non-negotiable. We refuse to put anything into bottle that we are not proud of. We work with the vineyards, focusing on picking decisions and press cuts, embracing natural acidity and harnessing wild yeast, to make pure and unadulterated wines,” Tannenbaum says.