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LUKE TOCACIU – WINEMAKER & OWNER #PATSPEOPLE
[ READING TIME: 5 MINS ]
Quick overview here above, for full Pat's People Interview, scroll down past the image.
I am kind and humble in nature and believe that if you are kind to people then it will be returned in your favour somewhere down the track.
I grew up in the wine industry, with the tank farm and barrel hall being my playground from a young age. That has never left me and I still see the winery as a playground. I make wines that I like to drink, with a few styles and varieties to play with.
My winemaking is a combination of the knowledge that my Dad passed down to me from his years of experience, with the ability to listen, observe and taste all things new. New styles, oak types, yeast strains, techniques are always on my mind when I think about trialling a new wine.
After Dad passed away in 2013, I found myself in the role of Winemaker and Managing Director at the age of 29. It was a steep learning curve that wasn’t without some good times but also some challenging ones. I have settled into my role now and I'm excited for what the future brings for the company. Watch this space over the next few years as I bring some new wines into the mix as well as continuing the high quality, well aged classics.
Three things I think everyone should do at least once in their life:
- Go camping in a Kombi
[ Full extract interview from Pat's People Interviews in Feb 2017 - below image ]
Full interview extract from Pat's People Interviews in 2017 – Luke Tocaciu :
Can you tell us about your background a little bit?
My name is Luke Tocaciu and I am the winemaker here at Patrick of Coonawarra. Grew up here in Coonawarra and moved down when I was 5 with family and lived here ever since.
[ Where were you beforehand? In the Barossa. ]
Can you tell us a little bit about your life in general?
My life yeah sure, I grew up here went to high school in Mount Gambier. After that worked in Coonawarra in a winery for a year and then went over to Adelaide to go to Uni, studied winemaking for four years and then after that went over to America and worked in the US in the Sonoma Valley for a year as a winemaker and then between there did few vintages with a few other wine companies before moving back to Coonawarra and starting with the family business in about 2010.
Favourite other wine region in the world?
I really like Barossa. Obviously, I grew up there for a little while and my dad was a big part of the early Barossa days and worked for Tollana which was a big part of his life, we still go back there a little bit. It has a great reputation across the world and it’s a nice region to be in.
Who has inspired you the most over your whole life?
I guess from a work perspective seeing some of my Dad’s peers and seeing what they’ve been able to achieve in their careers has been really important to shape my life. People like Andrew Wigan in the Barossa and Sue Hodder here in Coonawarra, they have been very close family friends and I’ve seen them go through their careers, both becoming highly regarded in the wine industry.
Has the dream always been wine?
Yeah it has. I often get asked what would you do if you weren’t a winemaker and I’ve never really been able to answer that question. I grew up here in wineries, turning off pumps and skateboarding around the place and all that sort of stuff you do growing up in wineries, so it was always going to be wine and I haven’t regretted any of it.
What would you want to be remembered for?
I think remembered for kindness, having respect for other people is very important. Be friends with a lot of people in a lot of walks of life.
Outside of work what do you love?
Obviously Volkswagens, I’m a big Volkswagen fan so I spend a fair bit of time thinking about Volkswagen’s but not actually doing anything. But I love this region and the beach, obviously spend a lot of time at Robe surfing and fishing, all those things that go with living in a wine region near the coast which is great.
You’re obviously the business owner, so it may be slightly different for you, but other than working here what would you say the best thing is about Patrick of Coonawarra as a business, as a brand?
The family ties that it has is very important. Making wine from our own vineyards and being able to keep that within the whole family, taking that process right from the vineyard all the way to the wine, then being able to enjoy the wine at the other side. For me this is very important in the wine industry, to have that connection, be a business that can deliver everything from the grapes right through to the wine you have on your table.
What’s your favourite part of being at the helm of the company?
I like the challenge, I took over the company about four years ago now and obviously not at the best time in the wine industry. There’s certainly a lot of challenges out there and being able to grow and increase the expansion of the company has certainly been very challenging but also very rewarding, in particular when you do have those wins, celebrating the small wins with the big along the way.
If you had all the money/skills in the world, would there be anything else you would do?
I think I would love to travel around and see the world, explore other parts that I’ve never been to.
So far what’s been your favourite country in the world?
Favourite Country… that’s hard. I love the US. Having watched a lot of movies that depict an image that everything is big in the USA, to then travel there and experience it first hand was interesting to say the least. I also love Asian countries, the culture and the food being the highlight.
What were the best things about your dad?
My dad was one of those people, larger than life characters with the ability to instantly connect with people, be it walk into a room and entertain guests, or meet someone sitting next to him on the plane; to be able to strike up a conversation is a skill you know you can’t learn, he just had this way of connecting with people that was really special.
Is that also what you think customers would say about him?
Yes definitely. Everyone that met him, remembers him. I still run in to people that played football against him or met him through the wine industry or even here in cellar door; they always have very fond memories which is always nice to hear.
What’s your go to wine in our range?
Ah, go to would be Riesling in Summer, potentially Cabernet in Winter.
Riesling, I love Riesling, aged Riesling especially, seeing how it changes over the years. And then obviously being in Coonawarra, Cabernet. My cellar is probably 60% cabernet and probably 80% of that is Coonawarra.
And outside of our range what would be your go-to?
As far as styles Tasmanian Pinot is very special; outside of our company, Pinot is something that I’ve always looked at as an interest. Over in the US in Sonoma they make very good Pinot, but also heading over to Tassie and tasting a few here on Australian soil is always a highlight.
That’s a tough one. I’m very old school and love my Pearl Jam, those sort of things get a spin every now and then.
Do you have any regrets, hurt anyone or made a mistake that you have learnt from?
Learnt from?... I think connecting with people again once they have moved on is probably something that I haven’t done as much as I would have liked. Meeting a lot of friends along the way and not spending the time to make the effort to catch up with them again, this is probably the challenge in this day and age, something I’d like to change and work on. Tough question.
And in terms of most selfless act you’ve done in your life?
Selfless….. I think through the business is where I see my most selfless side, there isn’t a person that would come in and ask for a donation, or help of any kind, that we would turn away. Through the business there are always opportunities to take on charitable projects, help at local events, donate and sponsor people we care about; it’s hugely rewarding for me.