Vintage Cellars

Meet the Maker: Ed Carr – House of Arras, Accolade Wines

We talked to Ed Carr, Group Sparkling Manager & Chief Winemaker, House of Arras, Accolade Wines, to find out what makes Arras such sensational sparkling.


Australia’s most lauded sparkling winemaker, Ed Carr, had barely tasted a drop of wine until he chanced a job in the industry in his 20s and kicked off a 40-year career. His expertise has seen him help reframe Australian sparkling into a revered world-class drop.

Did wine feature much in your upbringing?

No, we were classic ‘Ten Pound Poms’ who came to Australia in the 1960s and wine wasn’t part of family life like it was in Italian families who had a glass with every meal. I was more of a beer and bourbon man up until wine came into my life in my 20s.

How did wine come into your life?

I studied chemistry and food microbiology at university and got a job in the ’70s as a laboratory technician in a winery that made sparkling wine. With my microbiology background, people assumed I would know what to do in the secondary fermentation part of sparkling winemaking.


From then on, it was a progressive interest in wine and winemaking in general. Winemaking, and particularly sparkling winemaking, was from the mid-’80s.

What was the sparkling wine scene in Australia like in the '80s?

Back then, Australian wine was trapped in a ‘budget’ sector. It’s amazing where the Australian sparkling wine sector has come in the last 20-30 years. We started the House of Arras brand in 1995, with the goal of producing a wine that would be equivalent to the best in the world, and be distinctly Tasmanian, and I think we’ve come a long way to getting there.

What is the most enjoyable part of the winemaking process at Accolade Wines?

First, there’s the finalising of the base wine blends at the end of harvest when we blend varieties and vineyards – it’s a culmination of all the work that’s gone into planning the harvest and the fruit. We line them all up and see what we’ve got – there’s a real sense of achievement and excitement.


The next stage I love is a long way away, when you’ve aged the wines and you’re looking to add liqueurs to get the wine right for market. With an aged style like Arras, that might be four to 10 years after you actually made the wine.

What separates a great winemaker?

To me, it’s about training your palate to recognise certain qualities, which comes with a lot of practice. And then [be able to use] winemaking techniques to create the characters that you like or remove the characters that you don’t want.

What do you wish Australians knew about locally made sparkling wine?

Sparkling wine’s image is built on fun and fashion and food, and it is [synonymous] with celebration. But one thing we miss is how well sparkling wine goes with food – it’s not just a drink to kick off a dinner party – you can make sparkling wine last longer into evening events. With Arras sparkling, if you let them bubble away for a while and warm up a tad … the [flavours] evolve a little bit further.

Would you consider branching into other wine varieties?

I believe in specialisation, whether you’re an aeronautical engineer or a mechanic or a winemaker. If you specialise in certain things, you can do it better and your total focus becomes an obsession. I look at sparkling wine and still think I have more to learn and more to do, so I don’t have an interest in other wine styles… apart from consuming them!

House of Arras wine to try

Arras Blanc de Blancs NV

Bright citrus and grapefruit characters with enough ageing for some softness and creaminess.


Arras Brut Elite Sparkling NV

Strawberry and raspberry characters with a yeasty complexity and taste.


Arras Origin South

A red fruit-driven style, expect some lovely creaminess and complexity.