Small Forest wine maker returns from 2017 International Wine Challenge a silver medalist

TOP EFFORT: Upper Hunter winemaker Atsuko Radcliffe is recently returned from judging at the International Wine Challenge.
TOP EFFORT: Upper Hunter winemaker Atsuko Radcliffe is recently returned from judging at the International Wine Challenge.

ATSUKO Radcliffe has been making wine in the Upper Hunter since 2013.

And, her wine label – Small Forest, derived from her maiden name Kobayashi – has been receiving international recognition.

The winemaker is recently returned from the 2017 International Wine Challenge (IWC) in London, where she has been judging the sake division since 2012.

In 2016, she became a panel chair judge, a role she said carries more responsibility.

“I’m really enjoying it,” she said.

“Everything is blind tasting and it’s really, really fair judging.

“[Judges that are] non-Japanese and Japanese are looking at it very differently.

“There are so many different wines, from all over the place – sometimes you’ve never even heard of that variety.

“You learn a lot – it is really, really great.

“And also you can meet many people from all over the place.”

The competition is the largest of its kind in the world, and Mrs Radcliffe is hoping to continue her involvement in the future.

She has recently also used the trip as an opportunity to visit wine regions in Europe, including those in France, Spain and Italy.

While being in a highly-respected position at the IWC is an achievement in itself, in 2017 she added another level to her involvement.

After years of not entering her own label, the Upper Hunter woman decided to put a wine in the competition.

Her 2014 Shiraz, from the first vintage under her Small Forest label was awarded a silver medal at the IWC.

But, Mrs Radcliffe has not let the success stop her from putting in her best effort.

“Just because I work hard doesn’t mean anything, because everybody works hard,” she said.

“Every single wine maker works so hard to achieve what you want to do.

“It’s all in the past.

“I won’t forget, but I don’t have time to relax or celebrate anymore; I just need to keep going.”

Mrs Radcliffe began making wine around three three decades ago in Japan – her native country, and she has since worked in France and California.

Recently, she had the opportunity to work for 18 months with one Japan’s Urakasumi, making sake.

She was the first female winemaker in Japan, and the only Japanese winemaker to establish a wine brand in Australia.

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