Where do you start with a Q&A with Giant Steps head winemaker Steve Flamsteed?
No question really … although Steve’s first qualification was in food … now it’s all about the wines.
For that fortunate turn of events wine lovers can thank the French.
Steve developed a number of culinary passions, including cheese making, which would take him to France to study his trade. It was after working at Chateau du Bluizard in Beaujolais that he was inspired to become a qualified winemaker.
After working for Leeuwin Estate in Margaret River (1999-2002) he moved to the Yarra Valley working at Yarra Burn Winery in the Upper Yarra (2002-2003) before joining Giant Steps in 2003.
Named Gourmet Traveller’s Wine Maker of the Year in 2016, chairman of judges Peter Forrestal described the Healesville winemaker as having a finely-tuned palate, instinctive flair for winemaking and fastidious attention to detail.
“This shows particularly in the stunning single-vineyard chardonnays and pinots of Giant Steps: distinctive wines that reflect their sites and glow with impeccable finesse,” Mr Forrestal said.
Tourist News put some questions to Steve at the landmark building that is Giant Steps winery, cellar door and restaurant in Healesville’s bustling East End.
Q: So, Steve … what’s your story?
A: We’re an independent small winery making Yarra Valley wines and single vineyard wines with a focus on chardonnay and pinot noir-syrah wines.
Q: What are three things you’d like people to know about your wines?
A: They’re hand-made; we have the advantage of a cool climate here in the Yarra Valley; and making in small batches we create “more personality of wine”.
Q: What excites you about this year’s vintage?
A: It’s been a really good year; the weather has created slow, even ripening – optimal conditions for making wines.
Q: What varieties are you particularly looking forward to bottling … and tasting?
A: Definitely our pinot noir and syrah.
Q: You’re a smaller winery … who is on the Giant Steps winemaking team?
A: We have three people in winemaking, myself as chief winemaker, Tony Fikkers and Bernie Morey, and five people in our vineyards.
Q: What do you love about living in the Yarra Valley?
A: Love the climate, the diverse wine community and the great team of winemakers throughout the Valley.
Q: What are the top drops to enjoy in the cooler months?
A: New release syrah and single vineyard pinots.
Q: Why do you think cellar doors are so inviting for tourists?
A: The tasting experience and the unique menus to complement the wines. At Giant Steps it’s also the setting with our 1000 oak barrel room used for tastings and private functions.
Q: What can people learn from visiting a winery?
A: It’s a great way to learn about wine, and about the story and people behind Giant Steps.
Q: What do you think is so special about the Yarra Valley wineries?
A: It’s the optimal climate we have here which is so fantastic for winemaking.
Q: What activities, events are coming up at Giant Steps?
A: Our new release wine syrah, focus dinners each month including black tie events and themed nights. Also, the first of our 2017 vintage wines.