Meet the team

Winery and Vineyard

Sam Kurtz - Head Winemaker

Sam is a born and raised 7th generation Barossan, with every generation before him being involved in either grape growing or wine making. Sam began his professional work as a qualified winemaker in 1992, though he does note the very first wine he made was as an amateur back in 1988. Sam has been a part of 36 vintages, with his career taking him overseas to work in the USA, Hungary, and Spain. 

Sam’s career has seen him work with fruit and wine from a diverse range of climates from most wine regions of Australia, and has consulted on winemaking projects in Georgia, China, India, Argentina, and New Zealand. 

Sam’s expansive career has been driven by his passion and love of both science, art, history, geography, and creativity. Sam came on board at Chateau Yaldara in early June this year. He says working in a new winery with vineyards he hasn’t worked with before is always an exciting learning experience. 

Stefan Dewey - Winemaker

Stefan’s journey to winemaking began through marketing. He undertook studies in Wine Business at The University of Adelaide and took on a vintage in the Barossa. The culmination of the two saw Stefan step into a rep roll with Kellermeister. 

The following vintage brought him the opportunity of landing a cellar hand role with Chateau Tanunda. This role led to a mentorship and friendship with Stuart “Stuey” Bourne, an exceptional winemaker with enthusiasm for all things wine and geology. Stuey gave Stefan the opportunity to develop and hone his skills and from this, Stefan left his sales behind him and focused on his passion for winemaking. 

Stefan’s career as a winemaker has been focussed on the Barossa. However, upon finishing his studies, Stefan based himself in London and travelled throughout Europe, gaining experience in a rich range of old and new world wines. Coming back to the Barossa, he obtained a cellar hand role with us here at Chateau Yaldara in 2016, and then stepping into a winemaking role in 2017.

Darren Lovell - Viticulturist

Darren’s background is in horticulture, with his career starting in the citrus industry. Growing plants has always been Darren’s passion, with his interest in viticulture developing during the millennium drought. His introduction to wine grapes happened when he was appointed to run a mixed fruit property that had both Shiraz and Chardonnay. This saw him develop an interest in vineyards for the last 30 years of his working career. His work has taken him across multiple regions both locally, interstate, and overseas. His career eventually brought him to Chateau Yaldara, where he has been in his post since 2020. 

Darren’s favourite part of the job is getting right into the vineyard and being hands on. He says the end result can be quite satisfying as it holds great optimism for the quality of future vintages. 

Darren loves to share his knowledge and insight, and with this comes his understanding that truly good wine starts from the vineyard. What vignerons do to the vines has a large bearing in the final quality of the wine.  

Cellar Door Team

Sam Wallace - Group cellar door manager

Sam has been in the wine industry for over 8 years, based in the Barossa Valley the entire time. Sam was not a wine drinker before moving to Australia. He has been introduced to an extensive range of wines over his time in cellar doors, allowing him to create a fantastic palate. 

Sam is honoured to be in such an important leadership position. Being welcomed by Sam is like being welcomed home, you feel a familiarity straight away, and instantly know you’re in the right place. Sam will have you laughing before the first wine’s been poured and have you talking about him long after you’ve left.  

Sam is all about creating a cellar door experience that is second-to-none. His years working in cellar doors, coupled with his Irish hospitality, have taught him that no matter how good the wine is, your experience is what matters most. His devotion to customer experience is what led him to choose our new cellar door team. Sam is certain that this cellar door team will make you eager to return to our chateau, time and time again.  

Megan Lyons - Marketing Coordinator/Group Cellar Door Salesperson

Megan joined the wine industry 7 years ago. She admits that working in the Barossa has spoilt her palate, as she is hard pressed to find a wine to top her local favourites. Working in the field led Megan to find her passion for marketing, leading her to return to university and obtain a postgraduate in Communications, focusing on social media management and marketing.  

As you step into our Chateau, Meg will be waiting to greet you with a smile on her face and a glass at the ready. Over the years, she has found the perfect combination is wine and a good story. A tasting with Meg will have you sipping extraordinary wines, each one paired perfectly with one of her riveting stories. Rest assured, each story holds a purpose, enlightening you with her tips and tricks on how to best enjoy the wine!  

Meg is also our marketing coordinator, working alongside our marketing director, direct to customer liaison, and cellar door manager, to promote the best that we have to offer to everyone.   

Jake Stanley - Direct to Customer Liaison/Group Cellar Door Salesperson

Jake grew up in the Barossa Valley and hails from a family of winemakers and Viticulturists, he has said with a grin that this may have been what led him down the different path of becoming a chef. Since moving into the wine industry 6 years ago, he has had multiple different roles in the industry soaking up knowledge. 

Jake has become engrossed in the Chateau Yaldara's history. If you have had the fortune of being led by Jake on a private tour of the estate, you will have seen first-hand the passion and knowledge he has, not only about the estate, but the wines themselves.  

Wondering what wine may be best for a certain occasion, or for a certain cuisine? Jake is who you are after. Jake’s background as a chef has allowed him to have appreciation for our wide range of wines, meaning by the end of a guided tasting with Jake, you’ll be a wine connoisseur!  

Jake is also our direct to customer liaison, working alongside our marketing team and cellar door manager to deliver our impressive range to our wide customer base.  

Directors

Adam Jacobs - Sales director

Adam’s career in the wine industry spans over 30 years, with it all starting due to his enjoyment of wine and someone simply telling him “That’s a great industry to be in”.

He began his career as a sales representative for a wholesale wine company in Melbourne. After 4 years he moved into grape and wine production with various companies and wine labels that he has owned. Adam has a degree in Viticulture and Oenology and has witnessed and experienced ups and downs in this industry.

Adam’s predominantly worked in Mclaren Vale, however, he has grown grapes, produced wine and sold wine from Mornington Peninsula, Langhorne Creek, Currency Creek and Adelaide Hills. Working in the Barossa is relatively new to Adam, but he has been with the company since April 2022 and is looking forward to watching the ‘magnificent Chateau Yaldara built in 1947, re-emerge in the wine industry domestically and internationally’. Adam is also enjoying working with a ‘great bunch of people’.

Laurie Bilby - Marketing director

Laurie Bilby is our marketing director, joining our company in April 2022. Her career in marketing spans almost 25 years, with marketing peaking her interests due to it’s fast-paced, ever evolving and changing landscape.

Her path into the wine industry begun 8 years ago when she was asked to review some label designs and branding for a winery, and it built from there. Her career in winery marketing begun in Mclaren Vale and has now led her to the Barossa. Alongside her role with us, Laurie currently consults for one of the largest not-for-profits in the South of Adelaide.

Since coming on board, Laurie has witnessed a wonderful relationship between our sales and marketing teams develop, allowing us to deliver our strategic plans. Laurie notes that since our new team has come on board, we are seeing record visitor numbers in the iconic Chateau Yaldara cellar door. Laurie is looking forward to sharing the exciting projects we are developing for both Chateau Yaldara and 1847 Wines.  

Administration

Daisy Zhang – Administration Manager

Daisy has had an expansive career, from education to wine. Her career has led her to the Barossa, where she has been based in the wine industry close to 10 years. Daisy believes each part of her career has allowed her to develop a range of skills that have enabled her to quickly adapt and handle any challenges she is faced with. For Daisy, she believes change is the only constant, and she embraces all her experiences and is always open and ready for whatever opportunities may arise. Daisy is an exceptional part of the Chateau Yaldara team, with her can-do attitude emanating throughout the team. 

Michelle Barr - Accountant

Michelle has joined the team after an extensive career, starting in Indigenous education. Her movement from Indigenous education and into finance began when she arrived in the Barossa in the 90’s. She began consulting in financial software education, followed by working in Asia in immigration and finance. Returning to the Barossa, she continued her financial consultation, and began making wine recreationally. In the early 2000’s she purchased her own vineyard in Eden Valley and has grown her own wine business since then. She now works full time in finance and wine, joining us mid-2023, something Michelle has dubbed the ‘perfect blend for me’.