What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I read every morning for 30 minutes; it’s very important to me. This morning, I was at my desk at 4.30am, and I read from a book called Courage is Calling [by “Stoicism guru” Ryan Holiday]. I’m a big believer in small disciplines consistently repeated every day to make big action. You can clean your teeth for two hours on one day, and think your teeth are going to be clean all week, but they won’t be. You’ve got to do it morning and night consistently.
Did you always strive to work in the wine industry?
Well no unfortunately, but I always knew what I didn’t want to do; living in the suburbs, driving a car to an office and working for someone, and then repeating that all over again, day in and day out, was the definition of what not to do for me. I’d love to say I had a well thought-out plan, but the fact is, I just moved away from what I didn’t want to do. I first got into the wine industry when an opportunity came up by chance in South Australia. For me, it didn’t matter whether it was booze, or something totally different – I just had a strong desire to build a brand with purpose. And lucky for me, my co-founder Richie Vandenberg is a third-generation grape grower.
What’s your favourite part of the winemaking process?
The drinking part! But I think all elements of wine making have beauty in them. I relate making wine to cooking, which I love. I get so excited about going to a market and seeing something which is just in season, organic and is so outstanding that you can put it in your mouth straight away without cooking it. It’s the same with wine – grow premium fruit and you don’t need to manipulate it too much to make great wine.
What inspired your mission to remove plastic from the ocean?
I grew up, like most Aussies, near the beach, but when I started travelling, I saw parts of Southeast Asia and South America in particular where they didn’t have the same pristine environment. Seeing the physical destruction, the deterioration of whole ecosystems, I was like, I need to be a part of solving this problem. The WWF reports that the average person consumes 57kg of plastic every year through coffee cups, packaging, blah, blah, blah, and unfortunately, about 3% (approximately 2kg of plastic per person) of that ends up in the water. Richie and I decided to use our commercial expertise to try to battle this by both raising awareness and making a tangible difference to the health of our oceans.
Does The Hidden Sea have any plans on the horizon?
We are expecting certification from the Australian government to be one of only four certified carbon neutral businesses from vineyard to port. Our goal to remove a billion bottles from the sea comes from accountability – we’ve set a goal that everyone understands, and we can be held accountable for it. While we do that we will bring consumers along for the journey.
If you were a wine, what would you be and why?
Because my personality is pretty high energy, I think I need to be carbonated – something sparkling. The Hidden Sea sparkling magnum rosé. Maybe together we just invented a new The Hidden Sea SKU – watch this space.