Photo: Winemaker Greg Gallagher with his daughter Lauren

Greg received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the wine industry as part of the Queen’s Birthday honour roll.

After nearly 50 years in the wine industry, Greg has a long list of notable achievements and accolades but was surprised when he heard he was nominated for an OAM and briefly considered declining it.

“I thought what have I done to deserve an award?” he asked. “I don’t know why I’ve earned it.”

“I’m hoping somebody comes forward and say they nominated me, but it hasn’t happened yet.”

Despite his surprise at the award Greg acknowledged his achievements.

“But I’m not sure it’s really worthy of an award, I thought the achievements were the award themselves.”

Greg’s first harvest was at Lindeman’s Wines in Mildura, Victoria in 1974. After studying chemistry at university, the only job Greg was able to get at the time was at a drive-through bottle shop. It was here where Greg first fell in love with wine and considered becoming a winemaker.

He approached Lindeman’s who turned him down, informing him he would need an oenology (wine science) degree. This led him to apply to Roseworthy College in South Aus- tralia, the only place in the country which offered the degree but was informed he would only be admitted if he had wine experience.

The age old ‘you need experience to get experience’ adage rang true again, but Greg called up Lindeman’s Winery again and got a job at their Mildura location. Greg graduated with an oenology degree in 1977 and got his first job out of college in Rutherglen.

Throughout his career in the wine industry, Greg said the best advice he received was – “Make wines people like to drink” and “Share a glass of wine with somebody, it tastes better.”

After years of working for bigger commercial producers both in Australia and overseas Greg and his wife Libby Gallagher decided to open their own winery. Following much in-depth research into the best conditions for raising various types of grapes the family moved to Jeir and opened Gallagher Wines in 2000.

Gallagher Wines won four trophies at the Canberra International Riesling Challenge in 2017, including Best in the ACT District, Best in Australia, Best Dry Riesling Style for the World, and Best Riesling for the World.

“I’m not making wines for the majority of people,” Greg said. “I’m making wines that I enjoy, but I think show lovely fruit characters that you see in the vines before you pick the grapes.”

“The best flavour you ever have is in the grapes just as you’re picking them,” he said. “From there on a good winemaker will not lose too much flavour.”

“I wanted to show the flavours off with the lovely textures and acidity and everything to make a wine look nice, smell nice, taste nice, and feel nice.”

Greg thanked his wife Libby in spades describing the OAM as a humbling award.

“I’ve been given an award for doing something I love doing,” he said. “My family have been putting up with me for 45 years and they probably deserve an award more than I do.”

With Greg approaching 69 years young, daughter Lauren has been working with her father for a while now preparing to take over the business in the future.

By Brianna O’Rourke