Charlie Svenson is the owner and winemaker of De Salis Wines, and his first love for food was from the sea. As a master fisherman, he ran a lobster and barrumundi boat in the Torres Strait, which also doubled as a floating store to the isolated populations in the region.
Returning to the fast-paced world, Charlie’s career as a research scientist at UNSW still had a food flavour, focusing on metabolic pathway engineering for renewable fuel – distilling ethanol from crop waste – as opposed to specially grown crops, so renewable energy production would not be competing with the food chain.Charlie’s love for wine meant he was habitually bending the ears of his friends about his passion – yet the move to winemaking seemed for Charlie, beyond him.
“I was the beer brewer for the parties on campus, but craving to dabble in winemaking. When I turned 40, my mates gave me a barrel and told me to get on with it – make wine – they were sick of hearing about my viniferous dreams.”
Charlie worked at Canobolas Smith in Orange for seven vintages under regional pioneer Murray Smith, who was an “inspiration for his palate.” Then made the move to Orange, initially working at CSU, and purchasing Lofty Vineyard from David Gartrell in 2009. Charlie’s philosophy to wine is aligned to a chef’s philosophy to food.
“We see ourselves as minimalist winemakers at De Salis – like a great chef who will choose the best produce in season and artistically develops the flavour, enhancing but not changing its uniqueness and regionality.
At De Salis we combine the place, the season and the winemaker’s interpretation of the fruit to make wines reflective of the terroir. We can do this as we have the luxury to grow the grapes and make the wines ourselves.”
Charlie has noticed an increase in interest in food providence and of the personal energy that is put into those who grow and produce the food.
“Food and wine tourism is about connection, and in Orange you can meet the grower, the producer, the winemaker – share in their exuberance for their produce, their craft, the region and the people.”
For Charlie, Orange F.O.O.D week is the harvest celebration – with the region’s winery tanks full of freshly fermenting must, it’s an exciting time for the winemakers.
“We work really hard,” says Charlie “then kick back and share stories, making world-wide friendships sharing a love for terroir, the produce and our craft. Wine is about food and living – and the climate in Orange naturally makes food focused wines.”
Find out more about De Salis Wines