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Cellar door assistant Joyce Cleary made our wine tasting experience a standout. Read here tips and tales of what it’s like to work at... Player Profile

Name: Joyce Clery

Position: Cellar Door Assistant Bests Winery, Grampians VIC

What got you into the industry?

As I have always been involved in the Hospitality industry, I’ve had great exposure to wines and spent many an evening at wine tastings.

There is a romantic side to wine when you are perusing a wine list but I wanted to experience where it all starts. It’s very much a primary industry and many months are spent by the vignerons biting their nails and waiting for what the Gods will give them. It is so wonderful to be part of the process and to see how different each vintage can be.

What do you love about working in your cellar door?

I love the Best’s cellar door because you get to do a variety of tasks. Not only do we showcase the wines in an authentic turn of the century Stables, we also get to cap, label and bottle the wines, dispatch wine from the warehouse, search for back vintage wines to meet the desires of our members, work with specific industry computer programs and of course answer the phone! This year the cellar door crew made their own wine from a particular parcel of Shiraz grapes in our Rhymney vineyards but unfortunately there is not enough to enter it into the Royal Melbourne Wine Show 😉

What should we expect when we come and visit your cellar door?

Customers should expect a cellar door like no other when they come to Best’s. Its full of history, photographs of the 5 generations of Thomson Family who took over from Henry Best in 1920, warm, friendly, approachable and knowledgeable staff. We offer an intimate tasting of our beautiful wines and customers can also experience a tour of our cellars that were excavated by the Chinese in the 1860’s. Each and every staff member is passionate about the wines at Best’s so make sure you allow plenty of time on your next visit.

Do you have a favourite wine style/grape variety?

I am originally from Dublin and spent four wonderful years in France as well as 10 years in the UK. As such, I’ve tried many different styles of wine. I love alternative varieties such as Viognier, Albarino, Arneis, Pinot Meunier, Gamay and Malbec. However I always gravitate to the Riesling and Pinot Noir section of a wine list. Our winemaker – Justin – is wooing us with a wooded Riesling that spends time in a French vat called a Foudre for 2-3 months. During these lovely spring days that would be my favourite but come back to me in winter and I’ll steer towards our elegant and peppery Shiraz!

What do you enjoy as your knock off drink?

My knock off drink depends on the season! In the winter months in Great Western its either a Shiraz or Cabernet, Spring calls for a Riesling, Summer is all about a dry Rosé and Autumn sees me drinking a Pinot Noir. If it’s a Sunday afternoon then it has to be a Gin & Tonic. If I have been dragged out on a camping weekend then it’s a boutique IPA!

What would you serve with pizza?

We make our own bases so pizza is a serious dish in our house. I make up a batch of caramelized onions and store them in the fridge to use on our pizzas! I would love to be able to afford a case of Italian wines each month but alas I have to settle for some good Australian Dolcetto or Sangiovese. You need a wine you can quaff and not have to dissect. Best’s Dolcetto is exactly that kind of wine!

What wine would you bring to a BBQ?

I have come to love the BBQ since emigrating here in 1996. I lean towards BBQ’d fish dishes as I grew up in a small fishing village. So prawns are a must as well as any BBQ’d whole fish. I would bring a not too over oaked Australian Chardonnay, a Spanish Albarino or a white blend. The lads can bring the heavier reds!

A funny thing that happened at work?

Sometimes embarrassing events can be the funny ones – I was being introduced to Jane Faulkner (wine writer and judge) on a day when I was popping into the cellar door. My youngest son was with me and he was in the middle of toilet training. I was so involved in the conversation with Jane; I didn’t notice my youngest emptying his bladder beside a wine barrel. I was mortified but we have laughed about it since!

Any advice for us punters?

Know what you love! Never pass a cellar door, pop in and taste a few wines. (Unless you’re allergic to it) Open your pallet up to the fabulous regions and varieties this country has to offer. No matter how silly your question may seem – ask it. We are all constantly learning. Do try to store your wine properly as it will love you back. Enjoy your treasured bottles with loved ones as some of the best memories happen around the dinner table.


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