Beyond the Boardroom
Author: Sarah Treseler
March, 2017 Issue
Born and raised in Australia, Ben Cane is head winemaker at Westwood Wines in Sonoma. “Wine has always been a part of my family,” says Cane. “My parents are both great cooks, would love to throw dinner parties and have lots of great wine as part of the meal so I always associated wine with fun and laughter, great food and great people. My folks would take me to wine festivals and celebrations, and I always loved the beautiful places vines would grow.”
He earned his bachelor of science degree in organic chemistry and psychology from the University of Adelaide. After graduation, a family friend, who had worked at some of the greatest wine labels around the country, approached Cane about working in the wine industry. “He asked what I would do now that I had finished my degree, and I had no idea. ‘Do you like wine?’ he asked. I said yes. ‘Do you like to travel?’ I said yes. ‘Do you like to meet and work with eccentric people?’ I said yes. He said the wine industry was for me, and I dipped into it from there.” Cane then earned his post graduate diploma of oenology in oenology and viticulture from the University of Adelaide. He now lives in Healdsburg.
Do you have a big family?
I am an only child (perfection can only be achieved once!), but my parents are both from families of one boy and three girls, so I have a wider extended family.
Are you married?
Yes, October 2013 was my “first” marriage. I married a Brit, so we ended up having four weddings—two in California (a small civil ceremony plus a large outdoor festival in Anderson Valley) one in Australia, one in England.
What do you love to do outside of work?
My wife and many of our friends are big foodies; we love to get together to cook or go out to enjoy a meal. I like to ride my Ducati 996 Motorcycle and my bicycle around Sonoma County. I’m also a big live music fan and will head out to gigs and festivals all over the country and sometimes across the world.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having the opportunity to work in Australia, the U.S., Italy and France with inspiring winemakers, and then craft wines expressive of a place and time I feel is my greatest achievement. That those wines then created memorable experiences for their imbibers and garnered praise from trade and press alike was humbling, and I’m keen to see what the next 10 years will bring. I feel I’m just getting started.
What do you consider your best quality?
I try to make life fun. I have a gregarious and friendly nature, and I love to make people laugh and enjoy themselves. I think making wine can bring happiness and something special into many folk’s lives.
What's your favorite expression?
No worries mate, she’ll be right!
What's your favorite birthday memory?
My 40th birthday was a huge surprise party, organized by my wife. We had just been married on Sydney Harbor two days before and she secretly organized 28 people for an afternoon on a catamaran on Sydney Harbor with wine and fresh seafood as a surprise. We sailed around for five hours or so, and spent the afternoon on one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. It was an unforgettable experience with some of my favorite people.
What's your all-time favorite town or city?
Paris. There are many incredible cities I have been to around the world, but Paris left me speechless. The history, the atmosphere, the food, the wine, it’s a city I would move to in a heartbeat, and could quite happily explore for many years. There’s such beauty there, with a wonderful multicultural mix of folks from all over. And the simple pleasure of a fresh baguette or warm croissant in a café is hard to beat.
What's something about yourself you hope will never change?
My youthfulness—to always to be young at heart, see the positive side of life and have a laugh. It helps me deal with stress, and keep things in perspective.
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