John Duval was a winemaker at Penfolds for 29 years, achieving the post of head winemaker and overseeing the iconic Penfolds Grange. He left in 2003 to start his own label, John Duval Wines.
I have just finished my fortieth vintage here in the Barossa. My style is an elegant expression of some of the oldest vineyards in the world. I call it a respectful expression of these amazing old vineyards; I am not trying to make a fruit-bomb, high alcohol style wine.
I think most winemakers, if they are working for other people, think, "Wouldn’t it be nice to make your own wines?" I jokingly say it took me 29 years to get my name on a label!
I’m actually enjoying what I’m doing—I think the chance to develop your own wines, your own style is quite special. One of the first things I learned was how using your own money focuses your attention. Putting together distribution agreements, working on the Plexus label—I have never been involved in label design before. Interestingly, the very first gold medal I won wasn’t for what was inside the bottle, it was an international packaging award in New York for the Plexus. I was pretty happy with that!