In the picturesque region of Margaret River, Western Australia, Glenn Goodall, the Senior Winemaker at Xanadu Wines, stands as a testament to the possibilities that can unfold when passion, dedication, and a touch of serendipity converge.
Glenn's remarkable journey in the wine industry culminated with a prestigious win in 2018 – the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy, awarded for Xanadu's Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.
As we approach the 60th Jimmy Watson Trophy presentation in 2023 at the Melbourne Royal Wine Awards, we delve into Glenn Goodall's career, his perspective on the Jimmy Watson win, and the enduring principles that guide his winemaking philosophy.
A Triumph for Xanadu: The Jimmy Watson Trophy
When asked about the significance of winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy, Goodall exudes pride and humility,
"Winning the Jimmy Watson was an incredible achievement and honour for the Xanadu team.
“It has certainly been a highlight of my career, which obviously brought a lot of recognition, being such a high-profile trophy, particularly with consumers as well as trade."
The impact of winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy was far-reaching Glenn explains.
"It was huge! ... Obviously, winning the Jimmy Watson was a massive profile boost for the winery, but it also had an immediate impact on sales and growth of our brand.
“We’ve always been very proud of our Cabernets and the accolades they have achieved, but none have quite created the same buzz as winning the Jimmy Watson."
The award not only elevated the reputation of Xanadu, but also led to increased sales and a surge in demand for their wines.
A Simple Winemaking Philosophy
Goodall's winemaking philosophy has remained remarkably consistent throughout his career, both before and after winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy.
"It's always been a 'keep it simple' approach in the winery, and to invest plenty of time in the vineyard."
This adherence to the fundamentals of winemaking, focusing on the quality of the grapes, and maintaining a less-is-more approach, has been a key to his success.
The Journey to Becoming a Winemaker
Goodall's journey as a winemaker began with a surfing holiday in Australia in 1989. Little did he know that this trip would transform his life and lead him to the world of wine.
While working in the vineyard at Cassegrain Wines in Port Macquarie, New South Wales, he developed a deep interest in winemaking. A vintage in Bordeaux, France in 1990 solidified his passion for wine, prompting him to pursue winemaking studies at the University of Adelaide.
Over the years, Goodall gained valuable experience working at wineries across the globe, including South Africa, New Zealand, and the USA. In 1999, he settled in the Margaret River region and eventually found his niche at Xanadu Wines, where he has been the Senior Winemaker since 2006.
Goodall's approach to winemaking is intuitive, and he places great importance on the vineyard, believing that the foundation of quality wine lies in the quality of the grapes. He views winemaking as a team effort and proudly leads a team that shares his passion for the vineyard and the winemaking process.
Memorable Moments and the Jimmy Watson Anecdote
When asked about memorable moments from his winemaking journey, Glenn shares a fascinating anecdote related to the Jimmy Watson win.
"I guess an anecdote relating to the Jimmy Watson was the decision not to make a 'Reserve' Cabernet in 2016, as it probably ended up being the best decision we ever made (even though it raised a few financial eyebrows in the business at the time!). The result of not making a Reserve meant that some really strong components then cascaded into our 2016 Xanadu Cabernet (making it a much better blend!), which then went on to actually win the Jimmy Watson. A classic example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts."
He also mentions a light-hearted moment from 2018, the "Bin Wars" between Xanadu and Deepwoods, another Jimmy Watson winner. While it might be too intricate to explain in detail, these moments underscore the camaraderie and spirited nature of the winemaking community.
Advice for Aspiring Winemakers
For aspiring winemakers looking to achieve recognition in their careers, Glenn offers a valuable piece of advice, "Keep it simple, and respect what you have in the vineyard! I think that aspiring to make wines which have the fingerprint of a place, rather than the fingerprint of a person, is probably the best advice I could offer... and I wouldn't get too hung up on aspiring for recognition – if they focus on making the best wines that they can, then no doubt recognition will come to them."
Glenn Goodall's journey from a surfing holiday in Australia to winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy stands as a testament to his dedication and passion for winemaking. His commitment to the vineyard, 'keep it simple' philosophy, and unwavering pursuit of excellence have not only led to personal success but have also elevated Xanadu Wines to new heights.
As we look forward to the 60th Jimmy Watson Trophy in 2023, Glenn's story serves as an inspiring example for aspiring winemakers, reminding them that with the right approach and unwavering dedication, recognition and success will follow.