Sam Wigan is the new head of winemaking for Hill-Smith Family Estates taking over from Louisa Rose.
Rose will move to a new leadership role supporting the wine, sales and marketing teams as head of sustainability and brand ambassador.
Wigan has worked for the Hill-Smith family for 22 years and is highly acclaimed for his work with Barossa Grenache, Riesling and Shiraz, as well as more experimental projects with Grenache Blanc, Albariño and Tempranillo.
Barossa-born into a winemaking family, Wigan completed his first vintage in 2000 at Peter Lehmann Wines before travelling to Sonoma Valley for the Northern Hemisphere vintage.
Wigan has since expanded his mastery by working vintages in Marlborough, Rioja and Beaujolais.
Fifth generation and chair Robert Hill-Smith says, “Louisa Rose has mentored and led a strong winemaking team, and now under a new leader in Sam Wigan, we have the chance to showcase and express those experiences in a very tangible and exciting way as the 2024 harvest looms.
“Sam has shown excellence in his craft and embraces the balance of tradition with innovation across our folio.
“It is a challenging but exciting time.
“We have a strong, intelligent team with diverse thinking and a strong belief in crafting fine wine with personality and expression of place.
“This is the time to grasp the opportunity for excellence.”
Wigan says, “I have always been deeply passionate and excited by wine.
“Whether it’s New World wines from our backyard or great wines of the Old World.
“There’s an innate respect for tradition and terroir, but also great appreciation for the wines and the philosophy that have come from exceptional mentorship from Louisa Rose.
“Equally, I’m driven by our propensity to innovate, which the Hill-Smith family has advocated for generations and always encourages in their people.
“We have an outstanding team, energy in spades, and the support of the Hill-Smith family with a firm vision for their future generations.
“That’s a unique position, and I’m privileged to have a hand in preserving and evolving that legacy.”
Louisa Rose has worked for the Hill-Smith family since 1992 and was appointed head of winemaking in 2006, where she has devotedly embedded her philosophy of fine wine, innovation and sustainability within the winemaking team and broader business.
“During this time, Rose has become one of the world’s most respected winemakers, revered personally for her contribution to the industry and her wines, particularly under the labels of Yalumba and Pewsey Vale Vineyard,” Robert Hill-Smith says.
“Rose’s community-minded approach has rewarded the global wine industry through her decades of championing Australian wine around the world.
“She has served as a notable voice on wine show committees and industry boards, including the Australian Wine Research Institute and the Barossa Grape and Wine Association (BGWA) and has been named Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller WINE, International Women in Wine, The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology, and voted best winemaker in Australia by 100 of her peers – winemakers, sommeliers and wine buyers.”
Rose says, “To have talent and leadership of Sam’s calibre come through our ranks has filled us with confidence and opportunity.
“Sam’s enthusiasm for fine wine, his technical precision, and his natural charisma place the team in great hands for the future.
“It has been a pleasure working alongside Sam for 22 years; we still have many years working together ahead of us.”
Rose pressed the need for strong industry leadership.
“What our industry needs right now are united leaders that relentlessly advocate for the future of Australian wine – whether that’s supporting the trade and political agenda, lobbying for industry and government action, driving research and innovation with pace, or strengthening our roadmaps to carbon neutrality, and finding balance across all matters of ESG,” she says.
“We are fortunate to be able to listen and provide a voice on behalf of many.
“It’s what I look forward to most in this next role.”
Robert Hill-Smith says, “You do not survive in this business for six generations without a constant eye on the future.
“We have been through turbulent times before and it can be difficult to see the horizon amongst the waves, but we have engrained forward-thinking in our team.
“With great wine at the core of what we do, and Louisa Rose helming sustainability and innovation, our family feels a genuine sense of excitement for the future.”
Wigan and Rose will assume their respective positions from 5 December.