Episode 335 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently. It features Brad Hickey, who is the winemaker of the Brash Higgins winery in the McLaren Vale of Australia.
This is an interview in two parts, really. In the first half of the program gentle giant Brad arrives in the bustling metropolis looking for restaurant work, but is unsure at times how to open a bottle of Champagne. As he proceeds, after a few embarrassments but several encouragements, he steadies his confidence as well as his skills and takes up a Big Ticket Wine Buyer Job at a Prestigious Manhattan Restaurant Institution. And all is well, he has succeeded. Reached his goals. And there is a sort of pride and perhaps a dose of glee mixed in there as Brad recounts some of grander moments of the American Fin de Siécle. But after awhile he starts to feel that something is missing. The longing desire to simply spread out his arms into the air without hitting someone else in the head in the process gets Brad to thinking that maybe he has had his fill of Manhattan. And so he drops out. Cuts ties. Perhaps a bit lost, and wandering, he moves to Australia to help with the pruning. And so begins Act 2 of this interview, the second half, wherein Brad goes once again from hopeless newbie – crashing the rental car along the wine route a few times, and by so doing earning a nickname that rhymes with Crash – to becoming a vanguard vintner leading the new wave of Australian wine from his role as a winery owner in the McLaren Vale. Yeah, I didn’t see that coming, either. But there it is, a rather amazing story of someone who has reinvented himself more than once. And thankfully, Brad is clearly a sensitive person who has thought often and long about his own decision-making, and who is comfortable sharing those thoughts. Really it is a kind of extraordinary tale. This interview is a reminder that in wine business, it isn’t only the wine that transforms after some maturing.
Listen to the stream above, or check it out in iTunes.
I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @levi_opens_wine