Friday, 3 March 2017

Behind the Brand - Scott Comyns

Good things always come to good people. Well, most of the time anyway.

One of the good guys of the wine industry is Scott Comyns. Quiet, passionate, intelligent are but a few words describe him. He carries himself with an unpretentious humility but even life can throw curve balls to people fitting that mould.

Having worked his first vintage in the Hunter Valley at McGuigan's during 2002 and followed by First Creek in 2003, Comyns started gaining some serious momentum at Tempus Two before becoming winemaker at Briar Ridge in 2012. Scattered amongst his years in the Hunter were some experiences in Tasmania and France. 

Back to the Hunter and his tenure at Briar Ridge was short lived. Jim Chatto walked out of the Pepper Tree door and up the road to McWilliam's. An excellent opportunity presented itself and Comyns moved in overseeing operations as Chief Winemaker in 2014. Life seemed to be moving along quite nicely, or so he thought.

A finalist in The Wine Society’s Young Winemaker of the Year 2010 and Len Evans Tutorial scholar 2015, he was side swiped by management at Pepper Tree in 2016 and made redundant. Comyns was bamboozled like many in the industry. Offered another position within the company’s ‘restructure’, Comyns declined the offer. The question remained, where to from here?

Once the news spread the out-pouring of support was beyond Scott’s comprehension. In such tough times you find out who your friends really are, and he sure did. After seeing out 14 vintages in the Hunter Valley, he knew his only criteria was to stay in the region. In what capacity though was unknown.

In many respects, the redundancy was the kick in the pants he needed. Flanked by the enormous support from friends, family and industry folk, Comyns & Co was born. 

A result of maintaining excellent relationships with growers around the valley for all those years, fruit was secured from premium vineyards for his solo debut in 2016. Financial backing came through friends whilst brother Angus unleashed his creative juices producing eye catching labels. A website was launched, good mate Andrew Thomas made his winery facilities available - we have lift off! To sweeten the deal, Comyns joined Thomas as his assistant winemaker in 2016 making the duo a formidable combination.

From death's door to now having eight wines already in bottle in less than a year is a fantastic achievement. The range includes – Semillon, Fiano, Viognier/Semillon/Fiano blend, Merlot Rosé, Tempranillo, Pinot Shiraz, Shiraz, and a Tempranillo/Petit Verdot/Shiraz/Cabernet blend. All this from a vintage that was not regarded as one of the Hunter’s best, the resultant wines are most impressive.

So successful was the initial release of whites, nearly all stock has sold out with the reds only recently released in December. With the majority of these wines sold online, once the 2017 vintage is put to bed, Comyns intends to hit the streets to list his wines in some prominent restaurants and independent wine stores on the east coast.

Comyns and Co. A start up on the rise and well worth hunting down.

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