Phillip starts his life in Parkes, NSW, where is father managed a sheep farm. His working career starts off in the banking business, which eventually leads him to study in Switzerland for his MBA. Here, he goes to Burgundy on weekends and immerses himself with Pinot Noir. Phillip is a thirty-year veteran of the wine industry, being the founder and winemaker/viticulturist of the Macedon Ranges winery Curly Flat. Curly Flat is well known both locally and internationally for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Over the past twenty years Phillip frequently worked the northern hemisphere vintages at various leading domaines in Oregon, Long Island and Burgundy, and has used his knowledge acquired at vintage to produce better wines at Curly Flat. Since 2014, together with his wife Rika, he has been winemaking at Katsunuma Jozo in Yamanashi Japan, producing Koshu wines from small parcel of quality Koshu grapes grown locally. Phillip finds working at a Japanese winery fascinating, as the team is happy to accommodate new ideas, and think together.
Phillip loves his music (Bob Dylan, Phillip Glass, etc), and wants to play with his guitar and drums, although not so frequently as he wants to. He also loves to read various books, especially history/war novels, and to watch videos. He also goes mountain bike riding with Rika, usually on unpaved roads near Lancefield. He recently started yoga, and enjoying it immensely.
Rika was born in Japan, and started her career as a technical writer/French translator at Sony, Tokyo. Her mother, who always liked wines, had the foresight to start tasting wines from the age of 14. Since then, she taught Japanese at university, currently has a business in translation and interpreting, and teaches interpreting at Monash University. In 2017, she graduated from a viticulture/winemaking course at La Trobe University. She has worked several vintages at Curly Flat (vineyard, winery, laboratory) and at Katsunuma Jozo.
Rika likes going to concerts, mainly classical, but is a big fan of Cat Empire. She also likes Wagner and Mahler, and enjoyed the last two Ring Cycles in Melbourne.
Shumei is a textile artist, active in both Japan and in Australia. Born in Osaka, Shumei is one of the few artists who practice an old method of dyeing fabric called the Tsutsugaki method, where he uses an equivalent of a piping bag used to decorate cakes to draw designs on material with rice starch, before dyeing. He has been interested in natural pigments. He is a diligent scholar, having found a very old document on plum tree dye, he goes through the document carefully, going through the intricate process of burying the core of the plum tree, digging it up after some years, then extracting the pigment. In 2017, he spent several months at Curly Flat winery, Macedon ranges, Victoria, to experiment with pigments created from grape bi-products, such as lees and marc (grape skin).
Many of Shumei’s works can be seen in Australia, such as at “Tetsuyas” (tetsuyas.com) and “Azuma” (azuma.com.au) restaurants in Sydney, and at “Sake” (sakerestaurant.com.au) in Melbourne. He has also had several solo exhibitions at the Leslie Kehoe Gallery in Melbourne (keohoe.com.au).
While Shumei is famous for his intricate textile works, he is also an all-rounder of other methods. He is a skillful wood craftsman and has carved out frames for his work out of a single piece of wood. He has also made lacquer pieces, among many other talents. He strongly believes that an artist should be capable of conducting all the processes of his/her work. Many artists of recent times allocate different stages of their work to different people, who specialize only in that stage of production. With Shumei, he is involved in all aspects of his work; that is why his pieces are special and intense, into every detail it requires.
Aruga family from Katsunuma Jozo
Yuji Aruga is the second generation of Katsunuma Jozo and is the current Managing Director. He is involved mainly in sales and marketing, on top of his managing director role, he is the face of the winery, promoting not just their wines but the Koshu variety of which they are famous for. While he is not directly involved in production, he is very often seen in the winery, and also picking in the vineyard! He loves fast cars and owns a few fast cars including xxxx.
Hiro is the eldest son of the Yuji Aruga, and is the chief winemaker of Katsunuma Jozo. Trained in Burgundy, He is always keen to improve the quality of their wines and willing to experiment with new ways to achieve this. While wine made from Koshu has been in Japan for years, it was originally made from low quality fruit and fermented with addition of sugar. Hiro wants to change this image, decrease/eliminate the addition of sugar all together and help Koshu reach its potential.
Jun is the second son of Yuji Aruga, and works in marketing. With his bright smile, positive attitude and “let’s get work done” attitude, Jun is an absolute asset when it comes to interfacing with clients/customers and connecting with people. Like his father, Jun likes fast cars.
Sho is the youngest son of the Aruga family and he is responsible for all the vineyards that produce fruit for Katsunuma Jozo. It is only recently that it has become possible for wineries to own vineyards. This was to protect the very small grape growers, of which many work as contract vineyards for wineries. Sho is often in the vineyard, watching the vines, coordinating with the growers. He is also a buff on insects and has a comprehensive photo album of various insects in his mobile phone.
Poo is the resident black cat, who joined the team from Pets Haven Foundation, Woodend in 2013. She was originally called Opal, but for some reason her name morphed to “Poo”. Poo is very agile, but has no talent in killing mice or birds. She is the self appointed general manager of Shimora Wines, who makes sure that Phillip and Rika do not get slack. Also, when Shumei is around, she insists that Shumei gives her various types of wet foods throughout the night to please her palate.
Pets Haven Foundation: http://www.petshaven.org.au/about-us.aspx
Ponda is an Adelaide zoo charity panda bear from Haigues chocolate, given to Phillip and Rika by their good friend Vera. He accompanies them to most of their overseas trips. He thinks that being included in their photos is a bit like the gnome in the French movie Amelie. Ponda’s name comes from the fact that the French pronounce “panda” as “ponda”. Ponda and his good friend Winston are lovers of good wine and food, and appear in many dining photos. Ponda has been dropped from Rika’s backpack at Nagoya station in Japan, but thanks to the meticulous lost and found system, was subsequently safely sent back to Melbourne after spending one night at Shin Osaka terminal for the bullet trains.