Meet the Team

Our crew is the no-guts, no-glory type, as eclectic and determined as the sites we farm. All share a love of the land on which we farm and great cool-climate wine!

Melanie Chester

Melanie Chester joined Giant Steps as Head of Winemaking and Viticulture in 2021. Her previous experiences include working at Sutton Grange Winery in Central Victoria, where her influence on winemaking and viticulture led to multi trophy winning wines; as well as time in the Grampians for the historic Seppelt Great Western, working with fruit from all climates in Victoria – from the cool Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot region of Henty to the warmer continental climates of Heathcote. 

Melanie completed her studies in Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Adelaide, where she was the recipient of the Wolf Blass Prize for Excellence in Winemaking (2011) and the David Bradley Memorial Prize (2012), indicating the promise of an outstanding contribution to the wine industry.

Her wine industry experience spans diverse estates such as d’Arenberg in the McLaren Vale, Charles Melton in the Barossa, and Quinta do Crasto in Portugal’s Douro Valley.

In 2014, Melanie became the youngest ever scholar selected for The Len Evans Tutorial. In 2015, she was named Young Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine, and in 2018, Melanie was recognized by Young Gun of Wine as the People’s Choice award. Mel is a sought-after wine judge and currently is the Chair of Judges at the prestigious Melbourne Royal Wine Awards, the home of the Jimmy Watson trophy.

Melanie’s love affair with Giant Steps started long before she became Head of Winemaking and Viticulture, collecting the wines from our iconic vineyards for her personal cellar for many years. Her long-held admiration for the winery comes with an intrinsic pressure to honour the individual personalities and qualities of our sites. For Mel, this means keeping the winemaking tight and transparent, so the diversity of place is what you taste in the glass. 

Now as the General Manager of Giant Steps, Mel brings an intense passion for wine and great Burgundy. Outside of work she is an avid cook and fan of the simple pleasure in life – a good margarita, a bowl of handmade pasta, home grown herbs, loud music, filter coffee, ocean swims, fishing and time with friends and family. 

Ashley Wood

Viticulturist Ash Wood joined Giant Steps in 2020 after an impressive 25 years in viticulture within Australia at Devil’s Lair, Southcorp, Fosters, Treasury Wine Estates, and Cape Mentelle.

Ash is Western Australian born and bred, growing up near the Swan Valley surrounded by vineyards. Travel overseas to France stimulated his interest in wine, and he studied Viticulture at Charles Stuart University while working his first vintage with Phil Sexton at Devil’s Lair in 1996.

Ash manages the viticulture team at Giant Steps and his perfectionist streak makes him the ideal custodian of our beautiful Single Vineyard vines and land.

Michael Latham

Senior Winemaker Mike joined the Giant Steps team in June 2021 after winemaking stints in Tasmania with Pipers Brook and the Hunter Valley (Tyrrell’s, Mount Pleasant, Pepper Tree).

His love of good wine and travel has taken him to work at vineyards in the Northern Rhône, Burgundy and Oregon.

Jess Clark

After pivoting from a career in civil engineering, Jess entered the Masters in Oenology program at University of Adelaide, spending a year at California’s UC-Davis and gaining experience at Napa Valley’s Dana Estate.

In addition to working harvests across Australia, Jess has worked in Germany and France – in Burgundy at Domaine Dujac, and in Alsace at Hugel.

Back in Australia Jess worked at Tapanappa Wines in the Adelaide Hills before being drawn to the Giant Step’s single vineyard program, joining winemaker Steve Flamsteed at Giant Steps in 2019. Her philosophy to “refine, refine, refine” brings precision to the wines, describing the approach to identifying sites and conveying them in a wine as “art meets science.” Most recently, Jess was one of nine scholars to receive the prestigious Royal Sydney Royal Wine Professional Development Scholarship, which she is directing towards studies in Advanced Viticulture in collaboration with the Australian Wine Research Institute.

The Crew

Meet the Crew who make the wines

The Wines

Taste the Wines that make the brand

The Vineyards

See the vineyards that make the grapes