Hospo CheckIn: Steve Flamsteed

Award-winning winemaker, Steve Flamsteed, head winemaker of Yarra Valley’s Giant Steps and his own label – Salo – has kept his team busy with pruning and replanting in anticipation of the next vintage. 

We checked in to chat about what he’s missing, what’s he enjoying and what he’s learned during COVID. 

  1. What changes have you had to make to your business since March? Has it made big changes to vintages/releases and timelines? 

COVID and Lockdown 1.0 hit us just at the end of vintage, with picking of the last fruit – that was weird, but we just kind of stayed in our vintage bubble.  We had the most awesome vintage crew ever, many of whom were guys from OS who made the tough decision to stay.

Thanks to Jobkeeper, our full timers have since done lots of pruning.

We are replanting 4.5 Ha of vineyard this year so that will be the next job for them.

If we are still in this state of suspended animation in October,  there will be shoot thinning, wire-lifting then green harvest – I just hope it’s back to some kind of normal by harvest 2021!

We released the beautiful 19 vintage smack in the middle of lockdown 1.0… right when our mates in hospitality had to tighten orders,  so we had to shift our focus much more to online.  Our direct mailing list have been so loyal and so supportive.

We are somehow managing to keep it together as a business.  We are lucky to have a very strong national distributor and trade sales around the country are now creeping back – and the wines are looking really awesome!!

 

  1. What has surprised you about yourself during this time? 

Wow.. all kinds of emotions.  The ups are more up and the downs are more down…

It’s been a treat to see a lot more of the girls at home.  We have all done a lot more cooking and I’m loving that …

I miss mates and hugs big time…I miss my Mum, brothers and sisters a real lot – they are all over the place.

I miss sharing food and good bottles with our friends. I miss gigs (!!) and travel.. it seems some time still until any of that will be possible..

But it’s also made me realise how LUCKY we are, and what a massive treat all of those things are hey?

Like what an absolute honour it is to sit in a restaurant and have someone bring beautiful food to your table and suggest a glass of wine that may work?!  I will never take that shit for granted again. We need to all support those guys in whatever way we can as soon and as much as we can.

I’m blown away that my family is so tough – they just take it in their stride.  They all live for team sport and that has just been ripped out from under them this year.

I’m also so proud of our incredible community.

We have supported each other as much as possible.  Lots of wine swaps.  We have Sophie Classon’s Craft Cheese delivery each fortnight, Jarrod Hudson’s Thai delivery… things in jars seem to arrive on the doorstep.

Oh yeah… and I’m totally hooked on the Bureau on SBS.

 

  1. How are you and your team?

The team here are such legends.  We have always looked out for reach other but we do it a little bit more at the  moment. Lots more coffee, pastries and beer than normal.

We all prune as much as we can.  Spring seems like it coming bloody early this year so we are on the clock there.

A few of our crew are having to take time off for home schooling, lots are working from home.

In the winery, the year rolls on…we are just about to bottle our 2020 Pinot Rose!

We have had a bit more time to discuss wine and “stuff” this year, challenge each other…We do as many benchmarking exercises as we can, no wine shows this year so we are all trying to keep our palates tuned.

TillyJ and Jess are just such amazing people to work with every day, we never seem to tire of each other and we all appreciate that we have a job and we love what we do.

We share lots of recipes, a lot of articles, books, podcasts and music !!

Dave Brookes ISO playlists on Spotify kept us sane (I love that guy) all the way through.

But we are all ready for the elusive End of Vintage party that got postponed….

Giant Steps Winery 

Salo Wines