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Thursday 10 August 2023

New project for veteran winemaker


Chris Hatcher spent almost three decades as chief winemaker for the high-profile Wolf Blass wine brand, part of global giant Treasury Wine Estates.

Then, suddenly, he was gone.

Hatcher is now making wines under his own brand HATCH in the Barossa Valley, where he lives.

"HATCH Wines are coming along nicely and I will be releasing a 2023 Clare Valley Watervale Riesling and 2023 Eden Valley Flaxman’s Valley Riesling on September 1, followed by a Barossa Shiraz and a McLaren Vale Shiraz on November 1," he announced on LinkedIn.

Great news, but Hatcher's departure from Wolf Blass was handled most peculiarly.

I asked the Treasury media team for a press release on Hatcher's departure, and info on who would be replacing him.

After three days I finally got a one-line response; "Thank you for your email. We didn’t issue a media release but Wolf Blass continues to be made by our experienced team of winemakers "

Which is seriously weird given Hatcher had been the face of the brand.

Hatcher, now 71, completed a Science degree at the University of Adelaide in 1974, before studying winemaking at Charles Sturt University.

After working in Orlando and Kaiser Stuhl in the Barossa Valley and Simi Winery in California, he joined Wolf Blass in 1987. He was senior winemaker for nine years and in 1996 was promoted to chief winemaker.

He was named International Winemaker of the Year on multiple occasions.

In May, Hatcher presented the launch of the 2023 Wolf Blass luxury range.

On July 7 he retired with zero fanfare.

After almost 40 years. Odd is an undertatement.

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