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20Q: Gary Mills, Jamsheed

History is littered with all kinds of great stories about how particular people wound up working in the wine world. Winemaker Gary Mills’ story is no exception.

One time Japanese-speaking tour guide and Major League Baseball wannabe, Mills crashed into the wine world little more than a decade ago. Since that time, the trajectory of his Jamsheed label has been a steep one. So steep in fact that today his terrior-driven Syrahs are among the most sought-after single vineyard wines produced in Australia.

We recently caught up with Gary to talk everything from the changing face of Australian wine to his little-known talent for throwing 12-6 curveballs…

1. What do you do for a living?

Highly functioning alcoholic/winemaker.

2. Describe Jamsheed in a sentence.

Jamsheed tries to convey the rich tapestry of Victorian Syrah terroir through the wine – or alternatively, it’s an exercise in stubborn futility.

3. Tell us about the harem series Cab Franc 2015. What should we be eating with it?

100% whole bunch, carbonic maceration, single vineyard Yarra Valley Cabernet Franc; drink it with Middle Eastern meat dishes with a ton of spice and fragrance.

4. How did you come to be in wine?

The natural way, Bachelor of Literature, English teacher in Japan, cocktail bartender in the UK, Japanese-speaking rainforest/reef tour guide in Cairns, and finally into vineyards in Margaret River.

5. What skill do you possess that nobody knows you have?

A plus, plus 12-6 curveball, and I can speak Japanese.

6. What would you tell 10-year-old Gary Mills?

‘You probably won’t make it as a Major League Baseball player, so hit the books, son.’

7. Do you have a nickname?


8. The biggest myth surrounding wine is…

That the price of a wine equates somehow to quality.

9. Where’s your favourite place to eat?

Embla, Melbourne.

10. What’s your favourite sound?

The sound of a beer opening after a long week of work.

11. The most underrated grape variety on the planet is?

Cab Franc, of course.

12. Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere – literature, food, music, travel…

13. If you weren’t making wine, what would you be doing?

I would love to say playing professional baseball, but you kind of get the idea how that went.

14. What would your superpower be?

The ability to consume immense amounts of wine and still sound coherent – oh wait, I have a superpower!

15. What song do you never want to hear in the winery again?

‘Achy Breaky Heart’.

16. What’s so special about Australian wine now?

That there is a great conversation about terroir with Aussie wines now – that really never used to be the case.

17. Whose wines should we be checking out?

Strenua. My assistant winemaker, Rhen Dodd, and his business partner, Dale Wheeler, are farming their own small Syrah plot in Chum Creek, Yarra Valley – beautiful Syrah and Chardonnay.

18. The best way to spend a Sunday is…

Watching and playing baseball.

19. Got any guilty pleasures?


20. Elvis or Elton?

Good god! Elvis! Is that even a question?