International Winemakers gain valuable experience in Coonawarra

The 2018 Vintage has seen an influx of international winemakers to Coonawarra who have made the journey from across the globe to immerse themselves in the day to day winemaking operations of the Coonawarra Wine Region.

Amongst the team of internationals broadening their skills and gaining valuable experience in Coonawarra are young winemakers from Britain, Spain, America, France, Bulgaria, Belgium, Hungary, Indonesia and Italy.

Gianni Santini from Italy has completed a degree in viticulture in Florence and is currently working as a cellar door hand at Balnaves of Coonawarra. “I have come to Coonawarra for work experience and to improve my winemaking skills”, Mr Santini said. “I am enjoying living in Penola as it is a quiet town and is very similar to the countryside in Italy that I grew up in”.

Iskra Varbanova – assistant Winemaker at Wynns Coonawarra Estate

For Bulgarian Iskra Varbanova, it is her third time back to the region. “I am an assistant Winemaker at Wynns Coonawarra Estate and keep coming back because I love the people and it is a great community to gain experience from”, Ms Varbanova said.

French winemaker Leonore Salancon said she travelled to the region as she heard Coonawarra produced the best cabernet in the world. “It has been valuable to experience the different winemaking processes and extend my knowledge, Ms Salanlon said.


Coonawarra Vigneron’s president Pete Balnaves said it was always great to have internationals in the area. “It adds to our vintage experience and winemaking”.  “The international winemakers that come to Coonawarra for vintage become ambassadors not only for Coonawarra but for the Australian Wine Industry in general”.

Coonawarra has seen many young international Winemakers come and go over the years, on their paths to becoming Winemakers in their own countries. Mr Balnaves said, “Many of the past vintage participants still do keep in touch and it is great to hear of how they have progressed and are now making wine in their own right somewhere around the world”.

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