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Alex Shulkin - #009

Alex Shulkin and Galit Shachaf hail from Ashton, in the Adelaide Hills, and are the lovely people behind The Other Right wines.  Alex was born in Russia, and landed in Australia via Israel 32 years later.  His day job is a wine scientist with the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) and is possibly the only wine scientist in the world that makes natural wine

Website theotherrightwines.com
Instagram @theotherright

 

 

LINKS

James Erskine
UC Davis
Israeli MW 
Anton - Lucy Margaux
Tom Shobbrook
Sam Hughes
Natural Selection Theory
James Madden - Scintilla Wines
AWRI - Australian Wine Research Institute
Brettanomyces
Iwo - Si Vintners
Borachio - Alicia & Mark
Soul For Wine
Where's Nick
Winona - Manly
P&V Cellars What a fizzer
Peppes Bondi
Gareth Gentle Folk
Saccharomyces Cerevisiea
Angoves
Caffini Aqua Knife
Fischer Tornado
Vasse Felix

 

TRANSCRIPT

Alex Schulkin:
have a few colleagues at work that they know exactly how wine should be made, and they told me that the way we make wine is the wrong way, and that's how the other ride was born.

Ben:
Really?

Alex Schulkin:
We just [inaudible 00:00:24].

Ben:
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the podcast. In this episode, I'm talking with Alex Schulkin, wine scientist for the Australian Wine Research Institute, and half of the husband and wife team behind The Other Right based in Ashton in the Adelaide Hills. Alex was born in St Petersburg, Russia, and moved to Israel at 12 years old, eventually earning a degree in biophysics after a trip to Australia 20 years later to explore wine study options. His daring wife pushed them to move their young family over to Australia. It was here Alex had his mind expanded, and at one stage was destined to be the brewer for The Natural Selection Theory. From these beginnings, he's become possibly the only wine scientist in the world to make natural wine. As always, you can find show notes, links and more at our website, realwinepeople.com. But for now, please enjoy this conversation with Alex Schulkin. [inaudible 00:01:30]. If you want to sound like a Pixie or Barry White or anything, just...

Alex Schulkin:
I want to sound like The Pixies.

Ben:
Oh, The Pixies. We always sound like The Pixies. Quick... just get my beer. Cheers, mate.

Alex Schulkin:
Cheers, dude.

Ben:
I'm here with Alex in the Basket... this is not the Basket Range, is it?

Alex Schulkin:
This is Ashton.

Ben:
Ashton. I know nothing. I've been driving around in circles.

Alex Schulkin:
It's pretty close to the Basket Range.

Ben:
Right. Alex Schulkin of The Other Right wines in his cool shed that used to be a big agricultural engineering company.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, workshop.

Ben:
Workshop? Yeah. So, it's pretty cool sitting here on a Friday afternoon. I've just recently learned that Alex is from St. Petersburg in Russia via Israel and working for the AWRI doing all sorts of crazy research that I want to get all the info on, and makes beautiful wine under The Other Right.

Alex Schulkin:
Thank you.

Ben:
Yeah. Good to be here, mate. Good to see you again.

Alex Schulkin:
Oh, welcome.

Ben:
Thank you. So, mate, let's start from the beginning. Born in Russia.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, that was a while ago.

Ben:
Do you remember any... how old were you when you left?

Alex Schulkin:
12. I remember everything.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
It was an interesting time.

Ben:
I'm sure.

Alex Schulkin:
I do remember I was stoked to get out of the Soviet Union back then.

Ben:
Yes. Okay.

Alex Schulkin:
I mean, it's the place... I mean, there are many things about it that I don't miss, but I certainly miss the place, and I go there quite regularly.

Ben:
Oh, really? Cool. Lots of family?

Alex Schulkin:
Once a year. Yeah. My grandma still lives there. She's 97.

Ben:
Wow, that's good.

Alex Schulkin:
So, yeah, I go there once a year to hang out. Recently the whole natural wine scene in St. Peters... and in general and in Russia picked up hugely. Whenever I go there, I hang out with the locals who really appreciate what we do.

Ben:
Cool.

Alex Schulkin:
It's too hard for us to export wine there. It's too hard for them too because, well, Europe is around the corner and it's just too much work to get a layer on the palette.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
From Australia, yeah. But I'm surprised to find a wine there that people bring in a suitcase from wherever they find it in the world.

Ben:
Wow.

Alex Schulkin:
And then we just catch up and all of a sudden they pull out a bottle and go, "Do you make it three years ago?" I was like, "Oh my god. All right, let's have a look."

Ben:
Oh, wow. That's great. So, the scene is exploding, so it's natural wine bars, St. Petersburg is the same as any other major city.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah. Well, Moscow is a lot, lot bigger than that.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
But that's the same with everything. Whenever you compare St. Petersburg and Moscow, Moscow is always bigger...

Ben:
But St. Petersburg is the same as any major international city.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Ben:
Cool. I've never been to Russia. I've been really curious to go.

Alex Schulkin:
It's pretty cool. I mean, it's very interesting, worth visiting.

Ben:
Yep.

Alex Schulkin:
Now it's not the worst time.

Ben:
Oh, yeah. True. Yeah, yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
Can be worse.

Ben:
And then you came to Australia via Israel.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah. I spent 20 years of my life in Israel.

Ben:
Right. And what ages were that?

Alex Schulkin:
12 to, well, 32, give or take.

Ben:
And you studied there as well?

Alex Schulkin:
I studied... well, I did my high school there and then did my uni there, studied biophysics.

Ben:
Wow.

Alex Schulkin:
Then did a few things, worked a few jobs, worked my partner. We got married there and we had a daughter there. When our daughter was one, we came here with me studying wine-making in mind. So, the plan was to be here for a year and then go back to Israel and make wine. The only one I knew about, which was, I don't know, probably call it industrial wine these days.

Ben:
Yes.

Alex Schulkin:
Because, yeah, nobody told me then there was anything else. But so it happened the only contact in Australia I had was James Erskine.

Ben:
Really?

Alex Schulkin:
Who had studied wine-making, well, actually viticulture in UC Davis a few years prior to that with a good friend of mine from Israel who is now the first Israeli MW.

Ben:
Whoa. That's crazy.

Alex Schulkin:
There was early days when they were both in their mid twenties, and so I came here and I gave James a ring, and everything has evolved from there.

Ben:
Fantastic. So, you gave James a ring and you'd moved the family here. Did you do vintage with James?

Alex Schulkin:
Well, I didn't move the family here, per se. All three of us came here for that year for me to study.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
And us hang out. In fact, Galit, my partner, was probably the main driver of that move. I was just too scared.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
Between the two of us, she is the person with the vision.

Ben:
Great. We put up with those chicks.

Alex Schulkin:
And she was like, "Don't think twice. Let's do it. Let's go for it."

Ben:
Wow.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah. She's very, what do we call it? What's the word for it? Daring.

Ben:
Oh, daring. Yes. That sounds like my wife, Naomi. Yeah. Yes. Oh, cool. Okay.

Alex Schulkin:
So, yeah, we were here, and yeah, we met James couple of times. He'd only started making his wine, [inaudible 00:07:17], back then.

Ben:
Great. And that was 2009?

Alex Schulkin:
That was 2009, yeah.

Ben:
Yep.

Alex Schulkin:
And he was making wine in Anton's shed and Lucy Margaux.

Ben:
Yes.

Alex Schulkin:
And he took me there and I was like, "Is this wine-making? Why is there mud everywhere?"

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
"And why don't you use all that technology we have available for us?" And James was like, "I don't think we need to." And I thought, "Well, the wine must be really bad."

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
But sure enough, it didn't take long for us to do some tasting, and I was mind blown by what the wines looked like. Not only they weren't bad, they were actually something very different in a very exciting way. And that's probably how... well, and then natural wine maker was born.

Ben:
Great. Yes. It's amazing what... earlier today I saw Tom and we were chatting about that and how just from really the Anton James, Sam, Tom, and how much that has influenced where the whole industry is moving now. You know, it's crazy.

Alex Schulkin:
Absolutely. They were the four of them, Anton, James, Tom, and the late Sam Hughes.

Ben:
Yes.

Alex Schulkin:
And they were the initial Selection Theory, and I briefly joined that collective as potentially a brewer.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
That that never happened because I had my sights on making wine. But it was a very exciting time when I just happened to be around people with so much vision. For me, it was absolutely mind blowing. Every moment in that company that I spent, I was really amazed by what can be done and how it can be done and how different people's thoughts can be and their ideas of what can be done.

Ben:
Wow. Yeah. That's great. So, how long did it take... so, you met James '08?

Alex Schulkin:
No, '09.

Ben:
'09, sorry.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah.

Ben:
And then how long before you started making your own wine?

Alex Schulkin:
Not very long. As soon as that meeting happened, well, I wouldn't let it go.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
So, I kept harassing James and telling him, "Hey, all right, I'm going to just come and give you a hand." He probably didn't need that hand because I was more of a nuisance than anything, but he was very welcoming and supportive. And so was Anton. I did a few, we'll call it shifts, with him.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
And then I made James an offer he couldn't refuse.

Ben:
What, Russian style?

Alex Schulkin:
Probably. That's probably what enabled all that.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
My background. When I said how about I keep... and back then it probably became more useful because having spent a couple of years working in a winery, well, you get a better idea, so you become more of a help. So, I was like, "How about I do a whole vintage here?"

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
"And you let me make a couple barrels?" And James was like, "Yeah, cool." And one thing followed another, three years later there was five tons made in this shed, and then that's where it started feeling like it's time to make a move, because there is only that long you can abuse someone's hospitality for. So, 2017 was the first year when we started making wine here.

Ben:
Yeah, right. And so you moved from James's to here?

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah.

Ben:
Great.

Alex Schulkin:
But it was very welcoming and literally very generous of James to let me make wine in his shed for five years in a row. I don't know if I would be able to do that.

Ben:
Yeah, sure. Oh, you wouldn't be able to let people hear make...

Alex Schulkin:
Well, I'm getting close now because James Madden has been making wine here for three years and counting. But, well, I hope that my presence in James's shed works as well as James Madden's presence works for me.

Ben:
Sure. Yeah. Okay. Great. Great. And so what was the brief play with or dalliance with beer? What were you doing for Natural Selection Theory then?

Alex Schulkin:
I was home brewing because brewing is fun. It all started when I was a student. I couldn't really afford-

Ben:
That's where it starts.

Alex Schulkin:
... a lot of beer, and I figured out I can make it at a fraction of the prize. But what came as a complete surprise, it turned out to be even a lot better than what you could buy, and you could make whatever you wanted.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, so the plan with The Natural Selection Theory was that we start making beer, but that ran into some bureaucracy hoops because, as opposed to wine, with beer that's like the licensing is very different and quite annoying.

Ben:
And exact size.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, exact size. Exactly. So, that basically, yeah, that killed it in the crib, basically. That never happened, and I tried to be useful in other aspects when we were bottling eggs.

Ben:
Yes.

Alex Schulkin:
With that Hunter Semillon fermented when the fermentor eggs were immersed in different soils to express the fermentation surrounding terroir, of sorts.

Ben:
Yeah, and play different music. Yeah, Tom was telling me this.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah. Yeah. I wasn't present at the music.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
But I was totally present with the four eggs immersed in a different soils.

Ben:
Great.

Alex Schulkin:
There was the two barrels in separate rooms, where one barrel got talked to with words of love, and the other barrel got sworn at really badly. And then upon a session, it turned out that the wine that got sworn at turned out to be a lot better.

Ben:
Whoa.

Alex Schulkin:
Not that... I don't know what the expectations were anyway.

Ben:
Sure. Yeah. You can't have any expectations.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah. And it's not a controlled experiment.

Ben:
No.

Alex Schulkin:
It could be just barrel variation. Who knows?

Ben:
Is that the scientist coming out talking now?

Alex Schulkin:
Absolutely. Well, you can take me out of the institute, but you can't take the institute out of me.

Ben:
Yeah, sure. So, what sort of stuff do you do at the institute?

Alex Schulkin:
The project I'm involved in is wine texture.

Ben:
Oh, great.

Alex Schulkin:
So, we are looking at different drivers, chemical drivers, of wine texture, and different wine making techniques that lead to presence or absence of those drivers and basically try to put a picture together. The texture, as opposed to many other aspects of wine, is not as well researched. So, for me, it's very exciting to be a part of that project specifically. Yeah, and I've been doing it for almost 10 years now.

Ben:
10 years just on texture?

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Wow.

Alex Schulkin:
And counting.

Ben:
And so were you hired just for that? Is that how... I don't understand [crosstalk 00:15:29].

Alex Schulkin:
Basically, yeah. I was hired as a casual wine maker, right? For the institute. But I didn't get to do a single day of wine making because the things changed.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
Like it took to them like a month to recruit me. Within that month, quite a few things changed there and the projects evolved. And all of a sudden we were all there scratching our heads, "What are we supposed to do now?" But that's where my background in-

Ben:
The biophysics.

Alex Schulkin:
... biophysics, which... and biophysics is really a lot of chemistry and a lot of biology and heaps of physics.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
Physics is not as applicable with what I do now, but biology and especially chemistry, big time.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
And that combined with my wine making background and a degree in wine making really, well, hopefully provides me with some kind of a vision when it comes to wine chemistry and wine making and perspective in general.

Ben:
And have you used... so, when we're talking about The Other Right wines that you make here, are you influenced much by the texture work you've done?

Alex Schulkin:
Not as much as I would expect, interestingly. If anything, it's probably the other way around, really.

Ben:
We want no texture in our wines, yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
No, no. In the sense that my work in the institution is more influenced by what I do here than the other way around.

Ben:
Oh, okay. So, you're experimenting here and then going to the institute and replicating and saying, "This is what I saw in my cellar, let's do it in a scientific way."

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, but not quite such a direct relationship. It's more like our wine making over time becomes more and more intuitive.

Ben:
Yes.

Alex Schulkin:
And it could still be based on some kind of reason, but more and more, it's based on gut feels and intuition. First I found it a bit daunting when I kind of felt like doing something and I couldn't even explain why. But after a few years, many of those decisions are proven good ones. They made sense in hindsight.

Ben:
Yes, okay.

Alex Schulkin:
So, I've learned to rely on my intuition more and more, and all of a sudden I find myself in a position of... like those old school winemakers that ask questions 10, 15 years ago and told me, "Oh, we just do it because that's what feels right." And I thought they were wankers, and now I realize they probably weren't. So, I owe them an apology.

Ben:
That's cool. Well, nice. What would be an example of something that you did with intuition that in hindsight...

Alex Schulkin:
Anything.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
Any wine making decisions. When to peak-

Ben:
When they're taking off skins.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, when to press, how hard to press, which barrel to use. I used to try and think when I was looking at the grapes in the vineyard, I used to think, "I wonder what the pH is."

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
"And whether we should pick it now based on that." And now I taste it and go, "Yeah, that doesn't taste ready. Give it another week."

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
And sometimes I get... we always welcome people here, and it's not rare when there are some people around, they ask me, "So, why?" Or, "Why not now?" Or, "What is that thing that drives your decisions?" And I'll say, "I don't know."

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
I don't know. It feels like we need to wait a bit longer.

Ben:
So, what influence has your wine making... so, let's say if we're talking about a picking decision, so going down a bit of a rabbit hole here, so let's say you're talking about a picking decision. You go out there and it doesn't quite taste right. Are you still checking pH and sugars and-

Alex Schulkin:
No.

Ben:
Nothing.

Alex Schulkin:
I do check sugars.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
Well, sugar, just a refractometer. I just have a look at what it is, because the one thing that will affect my decisions except my gut feel is if the sugar gets too high, because we've been trying to make wine with lower alcohol content for years, purely because that's how we enjoy it more. And so if it starts going into the zone of 13 or 14, or, God forbid, 15%, then we'll probably pick and just deal with it. So, say if the flavor is not there or I think it's not... I don't know, tannin is not ripe enough, we'll just try and do something to make up for that.

Ben:
Yeah, we're similar. The one thing we do watch though is we watch acid very, very carefully, because I'm not... are you dealing with the same vineyards?

Alex Schulkin:
Ideally, yeah.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
At least it's ever evolving because, well, we had to part ways with a couple of vineyards recently because from organic practices they went off that kind of thing, just because they got purchased by another different owner, new owner, and the new owner wasn't into it at all, which it's beyond me why, but I can't control what exactly what I don't own.

Ben:
Exactly.

Alex Schulkin:
So, we had to find other vineyards, which we did. But generally, of course, the idea would be to work with the same vineyards year in, year out, because that's the only way for us to get our head around what are we doing and how to do it best.

Ben:
The reason I ask was because we have a new vineyard now. I think we've been making for five years from it, and it's only now that I'm starting to work out what works and what doesn't. I mean, we have converted it from conventional to organic as well so that the vineyard itself is changing. But, yeah, we look at assets very, very closely, because we do want the balance in the wine, and flavor's obviously the most important. But, in a way, it's a balance between those two and the sugar we check. But it's just more of a rough reference point of where it's sort of at compared to the year before. But yeah, the biggest issue we worry about is just because we're not adding acid or correcting, of course, is just the spoilage potential, especially in red wines that we're having, because-

Alex Schulkin:
And how funny is that? You'd think that white wines are more vulnerable, right? And somehow red wines seem to be a bit more finicky.

Ben:
Yeah. I don't know whether it's the food in there from all the tannins or...

Alex Schulkin:
Could be.

Ben:
[crosstalk 00:23:06].

Alex Schulkin:
It probably is. That's probably the answer. And generally, it's a generalization, but red wine is probably on average higher in pH.

Ben:
Yes.

Alex Schulkin:
So, less acidity.

Ben:
And more exposed. You know, it's on skins for longer, [crosstalk 00:23:21] barrel.

Alex Schulkin:
But I think the nutrients would... it's again, I don't know that, but I'm guessing that's nutrients.

Ben:
I think the AWRI should investigate that.

Alex Schulkin:
I think so. We're working on it.

Ben:
Yeah, nice.

Alex Schulkin:
One day we'll get there.

Ben:
Yeah, because we've had where we haven't watched that carefully and I've caught things too late. Like in 2012 we didn't release any wines. Oh, sorry, we didn't release two red wines because they just... I think the pH's were close to four.

Alex Schulkin:
We've released so many wine with pH4 you wouldn't believe it.

Ben:
But what happened in the barrel, Brettanomyces got in.

Alex Schulkin:
But Brett is not a pH thing.

Ben:
No, it's not, but Brett can help protect-

Alex Schulkin:
pH.

Ben:
Well, yeah, put the pH into a level that it makes it less attractive for something like that to survive.

Alex Schulkin:
But brett is a yeast, so that it doesn't really that impressed by any pH. Like, if Saccharomyces can do it, then Brett can do it.

Ben:
We also had a little residual sugar in there, and yeah, a lot of things went wrong in that vintage.

Alex Schulkin:
Well, that happened. That's wine making. But yeah, the only incidence of Brett we've had was totally attributed to a barrel used. Well, deal with old wood.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
And there was that one barrel. There were like four barrels from the same vineyard and one of them got really bray, and I totally attributed it to the barrel. But my only concern, and probably not only mine, high pH would be more bacterial internal in terms of rather than yeast, I'm talking about bacteria.

Ben:
We have BA as well, yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
But yeah, that could be bacterial, for sure. But bacteria are the ones that are really sensitive to pH. So, for them, pH3 would be like they just wouldn't exist.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
And pH4 they would have a party. Whereas with Brett pH4 it will be just slightly happier than it would be at pH3. Yeah. But in bacteria probe, well, when Brett's there, you know it, especially when it's there to the extent that you're not happy with. If it's there but it does nothing, then you don't know and you don't care. Right?

Ben:
Yep, that's it.

Alex Schulkin:
But My theory is that we have Brett in cells in every single one.

Ben:
Yes.

Alex Schulkin:
But the environment is not perfect for them to start expressing themselves, in which case it doesn't work for Brett, but it works for us.

Ben:
Yeah. Sure. No, I understand. Yeah, that's right. So, yeah, with the acid and with the new vineyard, we haven't had that instance since we've been watching, obviously watching acids, but I think just watching a lot closer. When you lose an entire [inaudible 00:26:19] of red, you tend to get a lot tighter on a lot of different things.

Alex Schulkin:
I can see how that could freak one out.

Ben:
Yeah, across the board. I'm just going to... how's your beer?

Alex Schulkin:
It's going well.

Ben:
Cool. So, Friday night. How many different wines would you make now with The Other Right, with your brand?

Alex Schulkin:
We'll average 10 to 12. It would average 11.

Ben:
Okay, nice.

Alex Schulkin:
But it would range between 10 and 12 as a result.

Ben:
Because of experimentation?

Alex Schulkin:
Because every year is different, and sometimes there is another vineyard that all of a sudden we pick up a new one, or sometimes it would be a heavier crop, and so it would make a couple more wines from the same vineyard, or the other way around, there would be a really light crop like in 2019, so this will be the first year when we'll consolidate two vineyards, two Viogniers from two separate vineyards into one wine, because otherwise there'll be really nothing to write home about in terms of a size. So, that's why the numbers change.

Alex Schulkin:
There are a few vineyards. Generally we tend to make one wine from one vineyard, and so it's not quite monopole because more people who take grapes from those vineyards, but from the section that we take, the grapes there would be like, yeah, we make wine, blend it together, and a bottle, as long as it makes sense, as long as it tastes good, if we think it can be done better, then we'll start improvising and blending. But we rarely have to do it.

Ben:
And so you're dealing with 10 different vineyards?

Alex Schulkin:
Or 10 different blocks. Some of them would come from the same vineyard, but the majority would be pretty much 10 diff... yeah, probably eight different vineyards.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
A bit of Pinot from here, a bit of Chardonnay from there, a bit of Shiraz.

Ben:
And they're all from around the Hills?

Alex Schulkin:
Except the Shiraz. That comes from McLarenvale, and we've gotten an excellent reason to work with that vineyard, which is it's awesome.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
But it's better than awesome, better than just that. But yeah, all the rest is from the Hills, from this area pretty much. We like the stuff that grows here, we like the varieties that grow here, like I'm sold on Chardonnay. I don't mind a Pinot. Viognier is very much... I don't know if it's a crowd pleaser. It's also a crowd pleaser, but it pleases us a lot.

Ben:
Right. Nice.

Alex Schulkin:
We really enjoy seeing what happens with that. Shiraz is that particular vineyard. If not that vineyard, we wouldn't be making Shiraz. And 2019 was the first year when we got some Pinot Gris, and we are super excited by that, and we'll keep working Gris.

Ben:
What did you do with the Gris? Is your wine making very broad? You're doing lots of different...

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah. When I came to think about it recently in the last couple of years, and it is very broad.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
So, we make a bit of red, a bit of white, a bit of pink, a bit of orange, some has bubbles, some doesn't, and basically that covers, well-

Ben:
Everything.

Alex Schulkin:
... everything. We don't make a lot of... we don't make fortified wine, except this year we did.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
Some oxidative, some not oxidative. You name it.

Ben:
Yeah, great.

Alex Schulkin:
Somehow. But we just find it exciting that there are so many options on the table and we can play with it.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
And do different things with the grapes and how they turn out.

Ben:
So, when you started, so '17 you moved here, so a few vintages. So, four or so with James, is that right?

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah. It was five actually, so 2012 was the first year.

Ben:
2012.

Alex Schulkin:
When we made two barrels of Grenache and one barrel of Chardonnay.

Ben:
So then you bottled that and then what did you do?

Alex Schulkin:
When we bottled it, we still had no name, and it was about this time of year. So, it was probably a bit earlier. It was late October. We realized that if we want to make wine in 2013, we need to sell what we have right now. So, we started brainstorming, and sure enough, it wasn't easy to find a name, to think of something that would make sense. And I have a few colleagues at work that they know exactly how a wine should be made, and they told me that the way we make wine is the wrong way, and that's how The Other Right was born.

Ben:
Really?

Alex Schulkin:
All of a sudden, we looked at each other and I said, "The Other Right, how does that sound?" And we just high fived.

Ben:
Oh, fantastic.

Alex Schulkin:
It was all good. It worked really well because it's also in our family we have issues with directions, and it wouldn't be uncommon to have this conversation, "Where do we turn here?" "Right." And then three seconds later, "No, no, the other right."

Ben:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes, I have the same problem. My wife's the navigator usually when we're away, and I can't tell left from right, so she has to point. She goes, "Go right," and I'm like, "Ah..." and I just turn.

Alex Schulkin:
That's what CFS, you know, the firefighters, that's what they do when they drive. That's a rule. When we're going to fight a fire, they go, "Your side, my side."

Ben:
Oh that's a good way to do it.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah.

Ben:
Naomi, if you're listening. No, it's my fault. So, did you have... no, because I love that name. It's awesome. Did you have any other names that almost made it but never did?

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah. We had a Russian word for plonk.

Ben:
Right. What's that?

Alex Schulkin:
[foreign language 00:32:49].

Ben:
[foreign language 00:32:50].

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
You did well.

Ben:
I've been practicing. No, I've forgotten it already.

Alex Schulkin:
[foreign language 00:32:57].

Ben:
[foreign language 00:32:59].

Alex Schulkin:
It's like, yeah, plonk.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
The literal translation is mumbler. It makes you mumble.

Ben:
Okay.

Alex Schulkin:
That bad, you get drunk and you just mumble.

Ben:
We did an Evo from C, his second label's called The Sauce, which is like a name for... or you probably know anyway, like rough drink or whatever. Just get on the sauce.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ben:
Yeah. Oh, that's good. Oh, cool. I like that one.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, and now we have Borracho, which is Spanish for the same thing.

Ben:
Is that what that means?

Alex Schulkin:
That's what that means.

Ben:
I thought it was just... yeah, because Borracho I presumed was Italian. Obviously I was wrong.

Alex Schulkin:
It's in Spanish, yeah, because Elisa is, well, she's Spanish origin, and yeah, for them it was a no brainer, Borrachu. It makes perfect sense when I think of Elisa and mark.

Ben:
Nice. True. Okay. So, The Other Right was born, and then so you had the Chardonnay and the... was it the Pinot?

Alex Schulkin:
That was Grenache.

Ben:
Grenache. You did say Grenache, yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah. Nothing was organic back then, but, well, in 2012, the general idea of natural wine was whatever grapes you get.

Ben:
Yep.

Alex Schulkin:
And then make it with no additives except some sulfuride bottling. And, well, we were almost lucky enough to learn things one step at a time, because now if we ever wanted to... we don't call that natural wine, we call it for the convenience because everybody knows what it means. But if we were really into getting stuck into this game, and then we would source a Grenache that not only wasn't organic, it was also machine picked. We would probably have a few eyebrows raised, including our own ones, but that was the evolution. So, we started in 2012, and 2013 we did about the same except we handpicked the Grenache, which was good idea.

Alex Schulkin:
Then the 2014 we got our hands on the first grapes that were grown organically. 2016 was the big year when we said, "All right, that's it. This year, we only work with stuff that's been grown organically, and we only use grapes in our wine."

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
And that was it, and not a lot has changed since, except now there is one vineyard that we work with that is actually certified organic, and I think we will... it's not though that we will have to move in that direction, we would like to move in that direction. I think it's the right thing to do, because when I buy wine from Europe, I don't always want or have the means to explore and look up every wine maker and what they do and find... and yeah, not always you can even find reliable information on the web or wherever you look. And I want to know that I want to be certain that the one is grown, the grapes are grown the way we believe in, and that's where that little logo on the label plays a role. I think I'm not the only one who's having those thoughts.

Ben:
Well, I think you're right. I mean, the whole thing's just been an evolution. You know? It's like, "What happens if we do this?" And, "What happens if we do that?" And, "Let's try this." And it was excitement and everyone was doing it, and over time it's evolving a certain way.

Alex Schulkin:
Yep.

Ben:
So, '16, you went all organic fruit and then no sulfur. So, using sulfur prior to that?

Alex Schulkin:
Yep.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
So, until... well, 2012 we used sulfur in every wine and we used like 70 or 80 parts. Then next year, '13, we used a bit less and we made one wine with no sulfur at all, and so it evolved. We made fewer and fewer wines with sulfur, and those that we made with sulfur, we used less. 2016 we bottled everything without sulfur, except there was that Chardonnay that we were yet to bottle, and I was freaking out because I thought white grapes, well, white wine was more vulnerable rather than less. But having bottled everything without sulfur except that wine, I was like, "All right, well let's just cross our fingers and go for it."

Ben:
Wow.

Alex Schulkin:
And we did, and we didn't regret it. And sure enough, and ever since, and now when we bottle of wine, I'm more worried about the reds than the whites. With whites I'm so relaxed.

Ben:
That's crazy. We're not quite there. Well, we're not there. We have a few wines that are no sulfur. We grow our fruit, which is all organic and et cetera, but we're doing the reds where we're putting barrels aside now that are not getting sulfur, because sulfur is the only thing that we do use, and we got the same, I think, yeah, 2011, we started at 70 and we've just been moving down and down. I think everything else 50 or under, but usually 40 or 30. But yeah, a certain amount we're putting aside with no sulfur, and then we're only selling that though locally, like within the Cellar Door. We're being very careful about the whole thing. So, what were the biggest... you just did it and everything worked out?

Alex Schulkin:
Basically. I consider ourselves very lucky because I know things can go wrong. I have seen things going wrong. Somehow we've gotten away with all we've done so far. There were a couple of wines that they were developing a little bit of something weird about them. Many of them have developed weird things, but most of them I was very happy with.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
But there were a couple that they were probably a bit suboptimal, but nothing overly serious from what I could tell. So, yeah, I guess we're lucky. We also try to be thoughtful. I don't know what percentage is luck and what percentage is that thoughtfulness. I'd like to think... it doesn't matter what I'd like to think because we don't know the answer.

Ben:
Sure. Sure, sure. Absolutely. So, you bring all the fruit in here, you're simple wine making. You crush it, press it, goes to mostly barrel?

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, all goes into barrel except the [inaudible 00:39:55] that go into a tank, and then they get bottled straight away.

Ben:
Yep.

Alex Schulkin:
So, we don't age anything in stainless. I know it works for many people. I've drunk lots of stuff that came out of stainless and tasted delicious. It somehow doesn't seem to work for us, and it only didn't work once or twice and that was enough for me to go, "All right, barrels seem to work better. Let's just do that." I like to experiment, but I can't experience with everything all the time, and some things I don't feel obliged to experiment just to find the answer. I'm in the privileged position of asking my own questions and giving my own answers.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
So, I'm not really curious to explore [inaudible 00:40:42] at the moment. Yeah, it might change one day, but at the moment I'm perfectly happy with old wood.

Ben:
Great. Yeah. That's excellent. Then I'll water, then you'll assemble the wine, give it to stainless for however long and then into bottle. All bottled here?

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, and they're not very long.

Ben:
A day or two or...

Alex Schulkin:
No, no, like a minute or two.

Ben:
Really?

Alex Schulkin:
We decided on a blend. Right? So, we have a few barrels sitting around. They are all going into the same tank. So, we just racked the barrels into that tank, pop it on the picking bins and feed it in the bottler straight away. We don't let it sit at all, because again, it's probably a superstition, my thing with stainless, but I don't like it sitting around for too long, and we try and bottle as quickly as we can to just really compress that process, and we don't look at doing anything. Probably it would involve less double handling if we labeled it at the same time and waxed it and boxed and everything, but I really want to get the bottling down and then we can deal with other things. And because the wine is sitting there unprotected of sorts in this, I don't want the first bottle to be very different from the last one.

Ben:
Yes. Okay.

Alex Schulkin:
Because we put the same label on them. Right?

Ben:
Yeah, yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
That's our way to fight bottle variation. And another thing is our corker has a vacuum attached to it, so the head space gets evacuated before the cork goes in. I think I find that being a very good idea. I don't know if that's part of our luck or our thoughtfulness, but that's how we've been doing it for years, and it seems to work for us.

Ben:
So, you have another job with the AWRI, and you're doing this, and then 2012 your first vintage, you've got your name, the other right, and then you realize you have to sell something. Do you get out and sell it yourself? Is that how that started?

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, that's very much how it started. Again, James was kind enough to let me in person at [NOS 00:43:02] as a brand, join him on his sales trip to Sydney in 2012, late 2012, and that was the start. That's how we got to meet a few people. I don't know, call it a foot in the door. Then next year I went on my own, and 2014 was about the same. In 2015 was the first year when we planned the trips and we realized that we don't really need to travel because we had no one... by the time we were about to board the plane, we had no wine left, or at least not all of them were just a couple or maybe just very little quantities, so it wasn't worth the travel. So, we do want to stay in touch with everyone as much as we can. We still travel, but now we do more gigs, events of sorts.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
So, I just came back from sulfur.

Ben:
Yep.

Alex Schulkin:
That was in Melbourne last weekend, and next weekend I'm going to Sydney doing a tasting with Where's Nick in Marrickville.

Ben:
Oh, great.

Alex Schulkin:
And a tasting with Winona in Manly.

Ben:
Yep.

Alex Schulkin:
And a gig with PNV. That's water fizzer, so that's all [inaudible 00:44:31] and sparkling.

Ben:
Oh, of course.

Alex Schulkin:
Yes. Yes. And then doing a lunch with Peppe's, Bondi. It's a beautiful restaurant that they make, well, Italian food, all plant based and in Bondi.

Ben:
Wow.

Alex Schulkin:
I'm certainly looking forward to that lunch.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah. That'll be great. Oh, that's cool. So, you sell mainly in Sydney? Do you sell in Melbourne?

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, we sell in Melbourne, we sell in Sydney. We sell a bit in WA and Queensland, but really not a lot.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
And we sell and we export to the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Denmark.

Ben:
Oh, wow.

Alex Schulkin:
And Japan, of course.

Ben:
I reckon that's busy enough.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, that's busy enough, and we don't expand our exports because we don't have enough wine. Ideally we would... on one hand, we would like to sell as much, like everything here, because environment.

Ben:
Yep.

Alex Schulkin:
On the other hand, the world we live in is mobile and we like not only drinking wine from here, but also looking at expanding our horizons, drinking your French wine, and, well, American wine, Italian wine, you name it, and Japanese wine. And so we'd like to look after others the same thing we wish to ourselves.

Ben:
Yes. Yeah, for sure. Oh, that's great. So, wow, what a journey. So, what's next? You opening a restaurant here and putting a rooftop bar in?

Alex Schulkin:
Retiring.

Ben:
Retiring.

Alex Schulkin:
Next I'm retiring.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
I've been talking about retirement for a while. I'm not retiring from wine making any soon. I'm not looking at retiring from the institute any soon. But we need to get creative and work less, because at the moment it's been on average 16 hours a day.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, and we'll have to become somehow more efficient. We'll find ways to do it. I have little doubt about it. But yeah, it will take some thinking and planning and troubleshooting. In terms of other projects, well, ideally we would make a little bit more wine, so now we would be roughly around the 20 ton mark, and we'll probably want to go closer to 25 or 30, just so we can make a little bit more wine so we don't sell out overnight, because so many people would like to look after, and every time we find ourselves with quite a few people that we just don't have wine for and we would really like to look after them, and it's... I mean, heartbreaking is a big word, but it's sort of that because they're really, really nice people we really enjoy working with. So, not being able to look after everyone is kind of sad.

Ben:
It is, yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
So we ideally would be making 25, 30 tons. In terms of growing grapes, at the moment we're undecided. Ideologically we'd like to be growing grapes, in terms of time management at the moment it's just out of out of the question. I would have to quit my job at the institute, and I think my current position there serves a lot of interests that are important to us. We live in a very divided world, and without going into politics, we can look at politics of wine, there is a lot of division going on, whether it's natural, not natural, how natural, how much natural, red, white, McLarenvale versus Barossa, you name it.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
And it shouldn't be like that. When we look at a spectrum of wine making, I'm not even talking about more or less natural. I'm talking about natural versus conventional, but small scale. It's still very similar to what we do. So, someone might be using a few techniques that we choose not to, but it's still not that different. They still don't make... I don't know, they don't bake bread, or, I don't know, orange juice.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
It's still wine. There is so much in common between what we do, so all that division, it's something I'm not enjoying.

Ben:
I always found that interesting. It's such a broad church. You know? Everyone is welcome, and everyone can learn from everyone, from the smallest winery to the biggest winery. They've all got something that someone else can learn from. And I think as-

Alex Schulkin:
To an extent. Well, I can only speak for myself, but what I've learned is that 10 years ago I was like a sponge. I would pick up everything and anything. And now it's not that... I mean, sometimes I have those light bulb moments when I go like, "Huh, that's pretty cool how you did it. I could certainly, add it to my arsenal of trick wine making." But more commonly, it would be like, "I'm really not that interested in that area."

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
I kind of know what I want to do, and I'm happy to learn, and I'm not dissing anything, but I also know what I don't want to know.

Ben:
Yeah. No, I understand that. And, yeah, I think my point was more a bigger winery might be doing something you don't agree with, but the way that they might do that process or something be like, "Ah, I see how that's done," and you can relate it back.

Alex Schulkin:
Do you have an example?

Ben:
I'm trying to think of an example. One would be... so, I was at a winery where they would use this product that was touted, I was working for a bigger winery at the time, and there's this packet of stuff that you'd add to a white wine to reduce... it was a fining agent to reduce the bitterness in a wine, and it would get the small chain stuff. But they were saying it was actually a tannin, like we're giving you a tannin to put it in and that would bind with this tannin and then drop it out. I was like, "Oh, that's really interesting." You know? Didn't want to use it, but learnt about it. And then when we were making a sav blanc it was like, "Oh, that's interesting. So, what if we were to get our grapes and dry out a portion of them so that we can sort of create that tannin, then add that back through the wine, then that would help bind that up and drop that out and get rid of the bitterness?" And it was like, "Oh, well let's give that a go." So, it wasn't sort of a direct learning, unless I was exposed to that.

Alex Schulkin:
Just an idea.

Ben:
Yeah, exposed to that idea from that [inaudible 00:51:57].

Alex Schulkin:
Something that drove your thought process.

Ben:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It certainly exists.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah. I wasn't saying it doesn't exist. I was saying it is becoming rarer than it used to be.

Ben:
Sure, exactly, because when you start, you're like it, "Yeah, I'll grab that, that, that, that, that, that," and you're learning and you're learning, and then you sort of forge the path that you want to go down, and a lot of things... you don't really want to know about the micro oxygenation and whatever it might be, the right oak chips to use with that one to get this flavor profile something. Okay, cool. I don't need to know that. But no, I completely understand.

Alex Schulkin:
So, going back to division, which I don't appreciate, we were talking about my role at the institute. I see that role, as well, as almost like a mission, because I'm in the privileged position of probably being the only one scientist in the world who makes natural wine, and certainly exposed to this world. I know for sure that many of my colleagues who wouldn't even hear about natural wine would just treat it as a bunch of hippies who have no idea what they're doing, giving it another thought and thinking, "Hang on, it's not that black and white." I'm pretty sure most of them still don't like drinking natural wine. They still disagree with a few things, but at least they know it's not necessarily driven by mad people, and that's a start. And the same thing with wine research. I'd like to think, and I know for certain to an extent that's the situation that I create some kind of-

Ben:
Like a bridge.

Alex Schulkin:
... like a bridge between two words that otherwise would have nothing in common. I also gave a lecture to Adelaide Uni students like a month ago about natural wine. They were doing their sensory class, and I got invited by the lecturer because Adelaide Uni decided that the students need to be exposed to more than one way of thinking, even if it's a guest lecturer. I was delighted to run that lecture with the students, and I invited Gareth from Gentle Folk over, and between the two of us, we covered pretty much wall all we could in two hours.

Ben:
Wow.

Alex Schulkin:
And it really felt like there were quite a few people who were... well, there was some people who really didn't give a shit, but there were quite a few... and that's not surprising and it did nothing wrong with it. But there were more people than I thought that looked genuinely, genuinely interested. And I was like, "Well, that's awesome."

Ben:
Excellent.

Alex Schulkin:
So, yeah, that was great. That was another useful thing of being a position of being a wine scientist, because I was there talking to them about natural wine, and I was welcoming... so, we welcome questions on any level. If they want to talk to us about the rationale behind it, we could do that, and we could to an extent provide... we never got a question, but we could provide references to why.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
And how we get away with what we get away with. But yeah, that was amazing.

Ben:
Yeah, that's great. So, being a bridge, does anything flow back the other way? So, anything from the institute that you would learn or any... I'm trying to think of the right word. Is there anything from your work at the institute, I know that you're exposing them to a world that's natural, is there anything from their world that comes back the other way?

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah?

Alex Schulkin:
Absolutely. And funnily enough, not exactly related to what I do, although what I do is applicable to any wine maker really, because they were talking about wine making techniques and how long you leave things on skins and how much residual CO2 you end up with and so on and so on. But a very interesting finding was made recently when our biology team, microbiology team were exploring wild ferments. It's an ongoing process, like it's a longterm project, quite a few years, so they've been collecting samples from wild ferments from around the country, and they were sequencing... so, it's metagenomics kind of thing.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
So, they're using heavy artillery genomic tools, and their findings were astonishing. But the biggest one, really, I mean, there were many very interesting things about it, but the biggest one was that wild ferment is a thing. Now, your first response would be, "Of course it's a thing," but there used to be the prevailing notion that you would get a resident yeast in your shed, and that ferments everything. And then people would say, "Well, there is not such thing as a wild ferment. It's all fermented by the same." You don't inoculate it physically, but it inoculates itself, and all of your ferments are carried out by the same yeast.

Ben:
The one that ends up controlling the ferment at the end and then populates your shed?

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, and then everything supposedly fermented with that. Well, that's not true.

Ben:
Really? Breaking news.

Alex Schulkin:
That was breaking news for me.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
So, that kind of notion was based on the fact that all ferments start with all sorts of yeast and finish by Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Ben:
Yeah. That's what we're all taught. Yeah. [inaudible 00:58:19].

Alex Schulkin:
Well, that is still true.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
But there is lots of different strains of cerevisiae, like endless list.

Ben:
If you look at the yeast catalog, there's so many.

Alex Schulkin:
And there are only the ones that made it to the catalog.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
We're talking about, I don't know. I'm not a microbiologist, but at least thousands and probably it could be millions of different strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. So, based on that, someone decided that because there was some Saccharomyces cerevisiae cultured in that shed, probably PDM, ISI 3.18.

Ben:
Yep. That's what we're taught as well. Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
Half the wine in this country is made with that yeast. So, someone said, "Yeah, that's probably our resident. That's what it's fermented." They didn't have the tools to tell the difference or they couldn't be bothered determining whether all of the ferments are in fact finished by ISI 3.18 PDM, or it was another strain of Saccharomyces that just happened to be there. Now, yeah, again, they're all finished by Saccharomyces. But what this research found, every single ferment, if it's a wild ferment, it's finished by different strain. Even if you have two separate ferments that I'll let go wild, not a yeast, in a winery that uses ISI 3.18 in every single other ferment.

Ben:
Really?

Alex Schulkin:
And they're still finished by Saccharomyces. Neither of them would be see ISI 3.18.

Ben:
Wow. When did this come out?

Alex Schulkin:
When? Well, the finding was made a couple of years ago. In terms of whether it was published, I'm sure portions of that would be published, otherwise I wouldn't be supposed to talk about it.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
But-

Ben:
On the wrong magazine.

Alex Schulkin:
Now, it's been published, or at least portions of it, but the project is all gone. There will be a lot more publications coming out of it.

Ben:
Great.

Alex Schulkin:
And many of them will be like super exciting.

Ben:
Yeah. Well, the bridge is certainly flowing the other way. That's good. That's a good feeling.

Alex Schulkin:
Absolutely. And I provided some samples, so they've been using our samples for like three years in a row now. So, they are also looking at the same vineyard year after year and trying to see where the yeast come from or whether it's the vineyard or is it not the vineyard. If they can trace similarities between two different vintages from the same vineyard, and there certainly are some, but only to an extent, of course, because there is yeast in the vineyard, there is also yeast everywhere else.

Ben:
Yes, of course. We're breathing it in. Yeah. Yeah. So, the study is to see if wine from the same vineyard is... we say vineyard in Western Australia and you say vineyard in South Australia.

Alex Schulkin:
I can't tell until the difference.

Ben:
Vineyard is what we say, and vineyard. So, the last part of the word is quicker here.

Alex Schulkin:
Oh, right. Yeah. I never noticed that.

Ben:
Because, yeah, my friends would probably say that the last part of the word is slower in Western Australia, so we're vineyard. But so what they're testing is to see if the same yeast, the same strain of cerevisiae is finishing the ferment if you're getting from the same vineyard. Is that what the study is?

Alex Schulkin:
It's not necessarily the case, because though there'll be lots of different strains of cerevisiae in the same vineyard, and even every time there would be a different strain finish in the ferment. Not only that, cerevisiae is hardly present in grapes.

Ben:
Right.

Alex Schulkin:
If there is a broken skin, so like bird pecked, the acidic acid [inaudible 01:02:13] and cerevisiae.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
But on the outside, on the skins, there is hardly any cerevisiae. So, in many cases, the cerevisiae wouldn't be coming... well, now I'm speculating. It's not published and it's certainly not official, but by the looks of it, cerevisiae doesn't come from the vineyard that much. To generalize or simplify, let's say it comes from the air. But what makes wild ferment so interesting is the other yeast.

Ben:
The start of the ferment.

Alex Schulkin:
The start of the ferment and throw all those different characters. In cerevisiae, it will contribute to the profile of the wine, but it will mainly do the job in converting sugar into alcohol.

Ben:
Right, right, right. So it's the fast starters on the outside of the grape skin that get going first.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah.

Ben:
There's [clocyra 01:00:03:10]?

Alex Schulkin:
Oh, there's heaps.

Ben:
Oh, there's lots of-

Alex Schulkin:
There is heaps of different species and gen I, really. Yeah. Many of them are non Sacs, non Saccharomyces.

Ben:
Non Sacs. There we go.

Alex Schulkin:
Non Sacs.

Ben:
Inside. That's how we go, non Sacs. I like it. Yeah, I went to school so long ago. I think we learnt I think three other things that weren't cerevisiae potentially, and they weren't spoiler yeast as well.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
[inaudible 01:03:36] Saccharomyces is pombe, and Hanseniaspora and some... I mean, again, I'm not a microbiologist.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
I can bring up a few names from my memory, and they were all considered spoilage yeast, and of course bread. But yeah, now they're looking more and more of simulating wild ferments. Those who too much control freaks to let a wild ferment happen, they still want to simulate it, so they check a few different strengths.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
And, well, yeast companies will come up with those mixes.

Ben:
I'm pretty sure I've see one that says-

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, yeah, you would have.

Ben:
... wild yeast. Yeah, you can buy it in a packet.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, whereas we just do it packetless.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah. It's like free range but in a [crosstalk 01:04:27]. It doesn't quite fly. Well, that's great, mate. Well, thanks. Anything else you want to add before we sign off and crack another beer? I can probably talk for hours.

Alex Schulkin:
I'm happy to answer anything. I do believe in freedom of information, and that doesn't only apply to these podcasts. That applies to anyone who... I really welcome anyone to get in touch with us and ask questions in terms of... when it comes to... one thing is transparency. We really believe in transparency. But another one is freedom of information. We don't own any knowledge that we possess because that's based on someone else's experience and knowledge that we learn. We didn't come up with anything, really.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
And if we did, like we've come up with some tiny bits, we're more than happy to share it, because we still don't own it. I've been contacted by a large wine-making company, and when I say large, it's a large one, and they were inquiring how to make pet nat.

Ben:
Wow, yep.

Alex Schulkin:
And it was probably my status as a wine scientist rather than as a wine maker that they found that I'm sort of reliable.

Ben:
Sure.

Alex Schulkin:
But yeah, anyway, they got in touch and they said, "How do you make pet nat?" I was like, "Sure. That's how we do it." I'm more than happy to share the knowledge. If that's what you want to do, go for it.

Ben:
That's fine.

Alex Schulkin:
I have absolutely no problem with that.

Ben:
No, in fact, it's funny you say that, because I got a call from a very big wine company only two days ago. I don't even know what today is.

Alex Schulkin:
Friday.

Ben:
Friday, so it was yesterday. And they were asking about knowledge for more vineyard stuff, so un divine control of weeds. We have a couple different machines, [inaudible 01:06:29] under vine high pressure water jet that uses rain water, just cold, jet stand of 1,000 PSI. It smashes Kayak and Cooch and all this stuff. And with Evo from [inaudible 01:06:41] and as we share this machine called a Tornado that Fisher make, and both of those machines are the first ones in Australia. Recently Evo took his tractor and went to another big wine company and did two hectors of their block because they're looking to convert to organic. We're the same. I think it should all be shared. Even just talking to you today, just learning stuff that I thought I knew and then I don't, and the sulfur thing. I even talked to Tom earlier. I think, yeah, it's all got to be out there and transparent. It's just going to improve everything.

Alex Schulkin:
Absolutely, and especially when it comes to stuff like organic, because I hope it's not if, it's probably when bigger players go entirely organic, that everyone's going to benefit from it just because of the ecology side of it. I know that many big players are considering or actively going for it. I'm pretty sure Angoves are pretty big on organic, and they don't look at certification, they just look at the practices and they just see the benefit in it.

Ben:
I think that's where it starts, is they get certified to lead a market demand and then-

Alex Schulkin:
Well, there is no market demand for them because they are not certified. They can't make those claims.

Ben:
No, Angoves is.

Alex Schulkin:
Are they?

Ben:
Yeah. They're the biggest certified wine producer in Australia.

Alex Schulkin:
All right.

Ben:
Yeah. They just announced the last... I mean, we're certified as well, so I guess we get the certified news.

Alex Schulkin:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ben:
I think their last block that they own is now under certification, so they'll be a 100%. Vasse Felix in Western Australia has announced they're going that way, so that'll be 320 hectors. Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
Wow.

Ben:
Yeah. They're all going for it, you know? Which is-

Alex Schulkin:
Which is great.

Ben:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You can only think it's been informed, obviously market, et cetera, but by the work that you're doing and have done and continue to.

Alex Schulkin:
It's probably the right thing to do on so many levels. It will probably benefit your sales, but on top of that, it's is good for everyone anyway.

Ben:
Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
And It's probably, in the long run, if they set it up right, it's also cheaper to manage.

Ben:
Exactly.

Alex Schulkin:
Hopefully one day. I know it's not always cheaper, and I know it can be like...

Ben:
But it's so much easier now to do it. Like as more come on, the supplier companies and machinery companies-

Alex Schulkin:
It becomes more available. Yeah.

Ben:
I mean, you can... this sort of goes against it, but you can be just be think... yeah, I think pretty much organic, by doing exactly the same as you've always done, you just swap the chemicals out that you're using in your tank.

Alex Schulkin:
Yep.

Ben:
There's things you can use on the vine that sort of goes against it, the spirit of it, but you can certainly do it. Yeah.

Alex Schulkin:
For sure.

Ben:
Cool, man. All right. We'll wrap it up.

Alex Schulkin:
Rock and roll.

Ben:
Thanks so much.

Alex Schulkin:
No, thank you.

Ben:
All right, I'll see you very soon when we turn this thing off.

Alex Schulkin:
I'm looking forward to it.

Ben:
What a great guy. Thanks, Alex, for that, and thanks everyone for listening. Once again, show notes and transcripts will be available at realonepeople.com. Have a great January and we'll be speaking soon. Cheers. Bye

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