As Pat tweaked and perfected the wines, Luke completed his degree in oenology and worked on a few vintages in Australia and overseas to gain experience. In 2009, Pat gave Luke a call and asked if he could come home and help – the business was growing and he needed a hand. They made a strong team: Pat had an uncanny knack to taste wine from the tank and know exactly what it needed: more acid, or to slow the fermentation down. Luke was astounded by this skill of his father’s; to taste the wine and know exactly how it would turn out. But Luke brought different skills to the table – a scientific approach as well as new ideas around technology, which Pat embraced.
Pat taught Luke to understand the vineyard and what was happening at each vintage – where the best part of the block was and why; what might need extra help. Attention to detail, from growing the grapes all the way through finishing the wine, was the most important thing Luke learned in his years alongside his father.
Tragically, Pat passed away in 2013 after a battle with brain cancer. Pat was full of love and passion, a people’s person who was extremely well liked and respected, and made a deep impression on the Australian wine industry. Luke became director and chief winemaker at 29 years old, far earlier than planned.
Pat’s greatest strengths as a winemaker are evident in the premium wines that make up the label’s Grande Reserve and Home Block wines. Luke’s respect for history and love for heritage styles ensures his father’s legacy will live on; these lauded styles will always be part of the stable. With the time they are given to develop, their expression is true to both place and vintage. They tell a story of not only Coonawarra and Wrattonbully, but are an ode to a great winemaker, too.
A NEW CHAPTER
With Luke at the helm, it is both a new beginning for Patrick of Coonawarra and a continuation of what came before. From growing up in the winery to being head winemaker at age 29, to becoming a leading figure in Australia's new generation of winemakers, Luke is bringing Patrick of Coonawarra into a new era.
A lover of art, he finds great satisfaction in the development of new styles, where creativity plays an equal role to science. With a list of ideas as long as his arm, he always has an experiment on the go. Luke has started to release some of these exciting trials in very limited batches under the Méthode range.
The first releases under this range take the hero varietals of the region and showcase them in a completely different light. Luke’s goal is to challenge assumptions and show the diversity in these styles, playing with ageing, terroir and texture. Luke draws inspiration from surprising places, and the range will be a boundary-pushing, ever changing part of the stable.
Patrick of Coonawarra, at its core, is an independent, family-run business. Jenny works in the cellar door, Luke is at the helm and Luke’s brother Matthew recently returned to join the team. And it goes beyond the Tocacius – staff are part of the family; customers and suppliers become community. It was always more than a business for Pat; a culmination of decades of unwavering passion and knowledge.
Patrick of Coonawarra is a poem of duality: a deep respect for heritage paired with excitement for the new.