“My favourite De Bortoli wine and food match would have to be Deen Vat Series no. 6 Verdelho served with crispy skin Murray Cod nestled on a bed of snake beans swimming in a fish and wine broth.”
Joel Veenhuizen’s winemaking career started in the De Bortoli Wines laboratories in 2004. He’d moved back to Griffith, his birthplace and where his family still live, after living in Melbourne while completing a Science degree from Monash University. Taking on the lab work because of his science background rather than a particular love of wine, Joel quickly became interested in the winemaking process and so moved out of the lab to become a technical assistant and then winemaker, working with head white winemaker John Coughlan, or “Cogo” as Joel calls him.
Joel is a lover of classic cars and bikes (“pulling things apart and never putting them back together gives me great satisfaction and it also creates much fodder for my peers,” he says) and of eating/drinking/debating around the kitchen table with his family, a place where he honed his renowned sense of humour and his reputation as someone who is unafraid to offer particularly honest feedback. He’s also proven to have a way with white wine (his style he says succinctly is: “white and dry”) taking out Best Dry White Wine award at the Australian Inland Wine Show for his 2015 Sacred Hill Chardonnay.
"Good clean glassware is essential. I always put a dash of wine in the glass, swirl it around, tip it out, then refill - bit of a process I know but nothing worse than having any remnants of dishwashing soap affect the flavour of the wine."
Joel says his career highlight at De Bortoli Wines was “collecting the Len Evans Memorial Trophy off wine industry legend James Halliday at the 2011 National Wine Show of Australia for the 2010 PHI Pinot Noir” on behalf of the company. A photo of this encounter takes pride of place in the office.
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