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Singlefile Wines

Pam Corbett
15 August 2016 | Singlefile Wines Blog | Pam Corbett

Q & A with Winemaker Mike Garland

Singlefile’s co-winemaker Mike Garland brings a wealth of experience to his job. But not all his experience lies in the land of wine. Mike has dabbled in wetland research, computer sales, fashion retail and a bit of building on the side. Discover more about his winemaking philosophy below.



Mike Garland completed a bachelor degree in Biological Science, and his career trajectory took him into wetland research, then computer sales. It was while working in fashion retail in Adelaide that Mike’s interest in wine was sparked. In 1996, driven by a passion for cool-climate wines, Mike and his wife relocated to Mount Barker in the Great Southern where they purchased an established vineyard.

Realising the world of wine was his calling, Mike then studied Wine Science at Charles Sturt University and landed his first gig with Great Southern’s Plantagenet Wines. During this time, Mike gained a robust knowledge of the wine industry, from viticulture to marketing, logistics, management and most importantly his main passion, winemaking. Mike gained experience in Germany’s Middle Rhine region, expanding on his fascination with Germanic-style Rieslings. Mike’s next role was at Denmark’s Castelli Winery where, since 2010, Mike has been a contributing force to Singlefile’s winemaking team and  our success. He loves honing his skills in this cool-climate hot spot.

What is your personal winemaking philosophy?

I like to concentrate on making wines that are balanced and in keeping with the vineyard rather than forcing a particular style. Good fruit flavour should be the core of the wine but not overly dominant – balanced with texture and mouthfeel to bring the wine alive. It’s always fun to push the boundaries but I firmly believe there should always be a specific beneficial aim – making wines for marketing purposes or trends alone makes my skin crawl.

Why did you begin working in wine?

It is one of the very few industries that allows you to follow a product all the way from planting the vineyard, growing the product, making the wine, marketing and, of course, drinking it. It’s also one of the very few industries that includes a good mix of scientific principles (from my biological background) and hands-on physical work. It’s innovative, progressive and you never stop learning or trying new things.

If you could do anything other than work in wine, which industry would it be?

I’d love to say professional footballer (round ball game) but I’m a bit too old for that. If I wasn’t in winemaking I would love to be involved in the football industry – maybe I’m just attracted to passionate professions (shame there’s not much money in either).

If you could drink any wine right now, what would it be?

I think today would be a perfect Pinot day – perfect for lunch and it matches an amazing array of foods.

What are your favourite varieties to drink?

Almost impossible to answer as it depends very much on the situation. I’d have to narrow it down to three styles. I love the purity, elegance and power of Riesling, the complexity of Chardonnay, and the structure of Cabernet.

What are your favourite varieties to make?

Probably the same as the previous answer for the same reasons. I do love seeing the development and influences with Chardonnay – it’s one of the few varieties on which the winemaker can have a really positive influence.

What makes Singlefile’s wines stand out from the rest?

I’d probably narrow it down to attention to detail and commitment to quality.  Every product has a stamp of quality about it.

Do you think consumers value regional distinctions?

Probably not enough. We have a long way to go to catch up with the Europeans on this one – nothing a few hundred years of experience won’t fix.

What’s the winery to watch in Australia?

I’m a real fan of Lethbridge Wines from Victoria’s Geelong region – Ray’s really passionate about what he does, stays true to style with most of his wines and still has room to push the boundaries with some out-there wines that are eminently drinkable.

Apart from Singlefile and, of course, Castelli, which other wineries do you most respect?

I’m always a fan of wineries that go quietly about their business and make some seriously good wines, rather than those that rely on being trendy or have flash marketing. Great local examples would be Harewood and Castle Rock Estate – both run by genuine people who simply make great wine without fanfare.


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