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A Whole Latta Love: Interview with Owen Latta

Owen Latta is one of Australia's most talented producers. Across his Eastern Peake and Latta labels, 2024 marks his 26th vintage (he’s only 40!). That’s 26 years making wine at the same place, from the same grapes, grown at the same site. To say he’s honed his craft is an understatement.

You did your first vintage when you were 14 years old. Have you ever wanted to pursue anything other than winemaking? 
Growing up in the rural countryside I’ve always wanted to be outside in a creative role getting my hands dirty, my parents had some pretty amazing mentors on their wine journey & this all seemed to rub off on me from a young age. As kids we were carted around to vineyards & wineries whenever our parents got a chance. There was such great fellowship & energy throughout the '80s & '90s with growers & makers sharing all the knowledge they’d learnt or discovered, I absolutely loved being around them, absorbing all that I could. So I guess being a vigneron was my destiny, I did think about being a fancy designer builder or something along the lines of that for a hot minute but the lure of the land was in my blood.

The thing that really gets me is the special connection to the land I grew up on & the way it's farmed with best practice & intention. Every vintage it’s quite incredible knowing that you can capture the season's hard work in a glass bottle, something we’ve grown & produced that can last for like 30 years or more, a time capsule for future generations to look at to reflect & ponder about the season that was that vintage.

What do you love most about being a winemaker, and grower?
The full cycle, I love being a vigneron, from where it all begins with the pruning (the most important part), through to harvest & on to sales sharing the story of what we do.

What are the differences between the Eastern Peake and Latta labels?
I’ve been back looking after Eastern Peake since 2007, in those days I really needed to find a way to support myself financially so started Latta 11 years ago as a way to have some fun with other varieties outside of Pinot Noir & Chardonnay. Easiest way to put it is:

Eastern Peake is our domaine/estate, Strictly Focused on single vineyard Chardonnay & Pinot Noir, farmed all by us & two long term growers all within the district of Coghills Creek Near Ballarat in Western Victoria.

Latta is the Negociant label, which is supported by amazing long term growers, old family friends, awesome people with great vineyards who we’ve known through our grape growing journey. Most of the fruit sourced is from Western Victoria, Pyrenees, Henty & Ballarat. 

The Winemaking for both is completely relaxed, heavily focused on expressing vineyards, only sulphur is added, absolutely no additions are used to produce the wines.

If Latta Vino was an album, what would it be? And Eastern Peake?
Oooft… its really hard to pick a favourite here, there’s an extensive sound system connected throughout the cellar assembled from all kinds of collected speakers & amps, it sounds so bloody good when the stylus hits the wax, we’re definitely not shy about the volume when things need to be amped up to get things done! These never get old & are likely to change with a moment’s notice depending on the vibe. Eastern Peake: Grace Jones ‘Nightclubbing’. Latta: Queens of the Stoneage ‘Songs for the deaf’

Can you sum up your winemaking philosophy in three words?
That’s easy… it's been on the back label forever! Unfined, Unfiltered & Untinkered

What are some of the biggest lessons learnt along your journey in winemaking?
Less is more, more or less! 

Favourite grape?
Chardonnay is the all time grape. When grown & produced in the right places by the right people it's so versatile, so expansive & so expressive.

What’s the last bottle you enjoyed?
A bottle of Benoit Ente Antichtone Aligoté 2020, beautiful Aligoté matched with sliced rare beef rocket & anchovy whip. 

Can you throw us a wine-food pairing with one of the cuvées from your latest release?
Can’t really go past a good classic for the Eastern Peake 2022 Intrinsic Pinot Noir – Duck l'orange, french lettuce, potato gratin.