With a story as impressive and captivating as each of her winemaking creations, international model turned TV star turned winemaker extraordinaire, Sierra Reed, is one rare breed with astonishing drops too good to keep to ourselves.
“I come from a long lineage of accomplished winemakers simply keeping the family tradition going”, said no Sierra Reed ever. Quite the contrary, really. No one goes from the catwalk to TV stardom to the vineyard without carving a crazily unique path. Whilst a contestant on the US TV series Survivor, “They told me I’d be voted out first, anyway”, Sierra reflects cheekily. And then went on to make it to the final seven and being crowned fan favourite. Take that, naysayers.
Despite a very successful and adventurous career, international modelling and humble island living were never truly Sierra’s jam – she’d discovered her true passion as the host of a food and travel show in New Zealand, falling head over heels in love with the grape.
“As someone with absolutely no formal wine education or experience, just how crazy would I be to do this?” It all started with this off-camera question posed by Sierra to a New Zealand viticulturist. The answer wasn’t wholly encouraging, as you might’ve guessed, but it was enough for the courageous Californian. The Reed Wines journey had begun.
“I didn’t have a resume! I was still in the USA and was sending out upwards of 150 tailored emails a day”. It was a determinably dogged approach that eventually got Sierra’s foot in the door, but as life is all too keen to remind us, it was never to be that easy. “I was working 18 hour shifts”, Sierra says vexed, recalling countless stints of unrewarded effort. “I was cleaning houses six days a week whilst barely getting vineyard exposure”.
“As someone with absolutely no formal wine education or experience, just how crazy would I be to do this?” … The answer wasn’t wholly encouraging.
She had the passion and the work ethic, but never the chance, seemingly stuck in a looping toil-against-industry montage without the payoff of opportunity. Whilst still in her native California Sierra recalls how “I gave them all of my sunshine and no one used it”.
Yet, as with any killer montage teeming with wine-powered will, the payoff finally began to materialise. With the deluge of applications once more underway and the winds of hardened experience in her sails, Sierra was finally given the keys – not as a front-of-house face or low-level labourer, but as a winemaker.
Over the intervening years, Sierra has become a winemaker with one hell of a CV, culminating in her moving permanently to Australia. From the Barossa to Beaujolais, Napa Valley to Yarra Valley, Sierra’s vintage experience is as brilliantly colourful as the journey that brought her here – a journey that’s not even close to being over. “Winemaking is still a dream that I don’t think I’ll ever feel is fully achieved”, she says. “That’s when you stop making good wine”.
And say hello to one mighty understatement, because Sierra’s house style goes beyond simply “making good wine”. Putting her on the map with more gusto than any amount of vintages ever could, these are wines of instinctual elegance.
Astoundingly sophisticated, Sierra’s 2015 Grenache is standing up as one of the absolute best expressions of Grenache coming out of Australia.
Intensely fruity, yet surprisingly light on its feet, it’s a Barossa Grenache perfect for those more partial to a Pinot; not your big brooding variety typically found within the style. And all the better for it, this is a very elegant, very stunning wine.“Winemaking is still a dream that I don’t think I’ll ever feel is fully achieved… That’s when you stop making good wine”.
Peppery and spicy, it’s the lush juiciness of the Knife Edge that sets it apart from most Grampians Shirazes, expressing both Sierra and the soil she now adoringly calls home.
So where does the story go now? Well, it’s only begun and we’re lucky that it can only get even more exciting from here. With vintages in Germany and a crack at Nebbiolo on the horizon, there’s a lot in store for the future of Sierra Reed and her eponymous collection. The ultimate destination – who knows; but anyone can be sure there’s only one certainty for this impassioned and talented winemaker: “if I wasn’t making wine today, I’d be dead”.
With an attitude like that, how can you not be captivated?