Steve’s roles at Marisco Vineyards are varied, but this suits his nature – always looking for new challenges.
The born Aucklander originally started doing a horticulture science degree with intention to become a farmer. However, he grew restless with hours of looking through microscopes, so switched to a business degree. “I thought that would be useful, no matter what industry I ended up in,” says Steve.
His interest was in growing things, though, so he opted to ply his trade as accountant at a wine company. That was back in 1995.
When Steve’s colleague Brent Marris asked him to devise a merger with his father’s viticulture business to create Wither Hills, Steve jumped at the opportunity. He subsequently became a director and CFO of Wither Hills. When that business was sold in 2002, Steve took up even wider roles with Brent’s new venture, which became Marisco Vineyards.
When Marisco bought Leefield Station late in 2012, Steve saw an opportunity to realise his dream of farming. He put his hand up to take care of the farming side of things on Leefield. “It’s a steep learning curve, but I’m lucky to be surrounded by great people,” says Steve.
Starting with empty paddocks, Steve worked with viticulturist Anton Rasmussen to work out a plan for the proposed vineyard planting, as well as working with the stockmen to return the former sheep and cattle station to its former glory. Leefield Station is now registered as an Angus stud and is busy building up its genetic base. The station is also home to a substantial flock of Romney sheep.
“What excites me is creating magical properties and brands,” says Steve. “At the same time, I need to manage the financial implications of what we do. It’s my job to make sure that finance isn’t a barrier to us creating those magical things.”
As if all the work challenges aren’t enough, Steve takes part in two to three adventure races a year, covering vast distances on foot, mountain bike and kayak non-stop over a period of days.