An hour of Peter Gago’s time is a precious thing.
As air miles go, he’s clocked up more than most – crisscrossing the globe in his role as Penfolds chief winemaker.
At least he used to, before Covid all but put a stop to international travel.
Ironically, a helicopter touches down at Penfolds HQ as I arrive at Magill Estate for our chat.
I assume it is delivering the main man to his interview, but alas no, he tells me later. High-fliers are just part of the woodwork here.
Gago’s office is spotless and grand; like something out of the 1920s.
There’s a thick red Persian rug underfoot, a Chesterfield in the corner and historical Penfolds memorabilia on the wall.
He is one of few to hold the top job. In its 177-year history, Penfolds has only ever had four chief winemakers – Max Schubert, Don Ditter, John Duval and Peter Gago, who joined the winemaking team in 1989.
“Some 32 years later I’m still here.”
Initially, his role was to craft sparkling wines, he then moved on to red winemaker, before taking his current role in 2002.
Peter taps the desktop.
He is a bundle of energy at the best of times and is never short on words.
It is an endearing quality in a man with a calendar of commitments at which most would balk.
I usually check in on how jetlagged he is.
This time, it’s different.