YOU would think the chance to sniff, swirl and swish more than 800 wines would be the dream job of a life time.
But for first-time associate judge at the National Cool Climate Wine Show Sam Ranzaglia, it was “ridiculously hard”.
He was put alongside some of the best judges in the country, who have decades of experience with making and judging wines.
Mr Renzaglia, 24, may be the son of Bathurst winemaker Mark Renzaglia, from Renzaglia Wines, but he admits there is still an awful lot he needs to learn.
He said the opportunity to put his nose to the test against some of the best judges in the country at the annual wine show was, he said, an offer he could not pass up.
“It’s very intimidating as a first-time judge, they really know what they’re talking about and I’ll still learning,” he said.
“In terms of development as a wine maker, it gives you an unparalleled chance to broaden your sensory analysis and understanding of wine. I learnt more in the last three days than I ever have.”
The steep learning curve has included a number of different factors, Mr Renzaglia said.
“It takes a long time to be confident in the good and the bad [wine] and being able to confidently say it [to the other judges],” he said.
I already knew I liked wine and wanted to work with wine, but now I’m obsessed.Sam Renzaglia
“On the first day my confidence in differentiating between unripe fruit and volatile acidity wasn’t there. They’re absolute deal breakers [to judges].”
Mr Renzaglia has spent many years among the vines in his family-run vineyard at O’Connell.
“Renzaglia Wines planted our first wines about 20 years ago,” he said. “I’ve been involved forever. I was the bucket boy [as a child], I still am the bucket boy.”
“It’s a family business, but I started full-time at the start of this year.”
His family’s winemaking business now extends to chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, with two acres of vines at the O’Connell property and another eight on Mount Panorama.
So keen is Mr Renzaglia to expand his wine making knowledge that he recently returned from a stint in Europe.
“I just got back from Italy where I spent the harvest,” he said.
“I already knew I liked wine and wanted to work with wine, but now I’m obsessed.”
And the young winemaker has plans for not only his family’s vineyard, but that of Bathurst’s burgeoning wine industry.
“My goal is to make Bathurst a wine making region that gains recognition,” Mr Renzaglia said.
Mr Renzaglia will soon commence a Wine Science degree through Charles Sturt University.