Hey! You're new.

Fancy a drink?

Press Enter to submit
Packs About
Get Involved
Press Enter to submit

20Q: Bryan Martin, Ravensworth

Bryan Martin is something of a renaissance man. The gifted chef, author and food writer also holds down two winemaking jobs, having assisted Tim Kirk with winemaking duties at Clonakilla since 2004, as well as running his own label, Ravensworth.

Held in enormously high regard by his peers, Martin is without question one of the most talented winemakers in the country. He was recently good enough to give us his thoughts on everything from “finally finding his tribe” at Rootstock Sydney in 2013, to the upside of being able to repair a broken-down bus…

1. What do you do for a living?

I’m a winemaker, an organic fruit grower, a one-time pig farmer, a taxi driver for my kids.

2. Where did it all start?

Bottle of 1980 ‘The College’ Chardonnay circa 1983. In that big buttery thing I found something I really liked. Didn’t realise at the time that I wanted to make it, but I was intrigued all the same. I just had to: finish my mechanics apprenticeship; learn that, while I loved classical piano and could pump out a tune, being a classical pianist for a living was not that likely because I wasn’t that good but, like being able to repair a broken-down bus, it’s a nice skill to have and you never know when it’ll be needed; travel the world, with little money, and see a whole new side of life that suburban mid-80s Canberra was lacking; work at the coalface of taking on the actual Dan Murphy in wine discounting in Melbourne; run a crazy hotel in the frontier land that is the Tasman peninsula; work as a cook all around Melbourne before having an epiphany over a tray of thawing Nile perch in a well-know 5-Star hotel back in Canberra that I was done; start a degree in viticulture and finish with wine science; find a nice parcel of land near Murrumbateman to plant our vineyard; become friends with one Tim Kirk who offered me a once-in-a-lifetime job to work for his family business.

3. Where has wine taken you?

To a festival called Rootstock back in 2013, where I found my tribe. They are a strange bunch, but I feel so much more at peace there than just about anywhere.

4. When did you know it was time to start your own label?

Way too early, but better to get it out of the way. Took time to work out what I wanted to be – I’ll let you know when I do.

5. Why Murrumbateman?

Surprisingly, it was near where I grew up and turned out to be a pretty good place to settle. Certainly didn’t study soils, climate, suitability etc. – thankfully it turned out to be a good choice.

6. Who fascinates you?

Tim Watkins from Automata, how does he get into those tight shorts.

7. When are you happiest?

Workwise, in my vineyard, sun on the back, tending the vines. They are amazing things; you planted these sticks and they now produce this lovely fruit year in year out.

8. You can do vintage anywhere, with anyone, in any year. Where, with who, when, and most obviously, why?

With Tim, next year, here. (Surely he’ll read this?) There’s so much more to explore here.

9. What’s the one wine you’re most proud of and why?

2013 Seven Months. I went at a skin ferment with the idea to hate it and fulfil my then-cynicism toward the style and derision of all who liked it. But I found the most amazing thing once I opened the tank, seven months later, and discovered a beautiful wine that I hadn’t had to do a thing to except let it be who it wanted to be. Changed my life.

10. What do you wish you knew about being a winemaker before you got started?

That there was so much more to this industry than what they taught at university. It helped, but mainly to eventually find out what I didn’t need to know.

11. You’ve got one album to get you through vintage, what is it?

Billy Ray Cyrus, ‘Some Gave All’, on repeat: “All gave some, some gave all…” – Brilliant.

12. The biggest myth surrounding wine is…

That it’s a romantic art form.

13. Whose wines should we be checking out?

Sam Leyshon, Mallaluka, watch this space. Ricky Evans, Two Tonne Tasmania, nicest guy and brave. AJ, La Violetta, I just love his spunk.

14. What’s your knock-off drink of choice?

Beer, obviously, who is this guy?

15. Whisky or Gin?


16. Night or day?


17. Childhood or Adulthood?


18. Favourite ice-cream flavour?


19. Perfect Sunday lunch?

Udon with freshly made dashi topped with an egg plucked, still warm, from the bum of a 2-year-old Isa Brown, cooked at 63.2°C for exactly 43 minutes.

20. Brian Eno or Brian Jones?

Eno, is this a trick question?