The eight-time F1 champion Daniel Ricciardo swapped pit lane for the open road of the Barossa Valley in January of this year. This was his first visit to the St Hugo winery. It’s part of a wine association that has allowed him to grow his palate and bond with his father, aside from their love for racing.

The 33-year-old Perth racing car driver has launched two red wines in the third partnership with St Hugo, DR3 the 3rd.

Ricciardo’s choice to enter wine was influenced by his connection to his father, Joe, and paternal grandfather, Francesco, who died in the very first year after the onset of COVID in Perth.

“Entering this wine partnership with St Hugo is all about returning to my Italian roots,” Ricciardo says. Ricciardo, who spoke with me following the recent Australian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo at St Hugo winery in the Barossa Valley. SUPPLIED

“My childhood was all about having meals with my family around the table, with no television on at dinnertime. It was a matter of getting a slap on the wrist for trying,” he recalls. “And wine was always an element of the conversation and with plenty of delicious food, too.

“The the wine that my family and I drank was mostly homemade variety. Dad and Nonno enjoyed making the wine together. It tasted to me more like vinegar, the kind mum would add to the spinach salad, but it was a labor of affection and they enjoyed to cook. This was an old-fashioned tradition that they continued to carry on,” Ricciardo says.

His father’s wine-loving passion stems from his childhood experiences and how it brought family members together.

“We often joked about my Nonno when we were kids. perhaps it’s a bit mean to claim however there never was an occasion that we did not meet him with a hug and not taste wine on his breath. He was a sexy guy, and was very into it, maybe excessively,” Ricciardo says.

To add his flavor to St Hugo wines, Ricciardo claims that he sent samples directly to his home in Los Angeles as he liaised with the chief winemaker Peter Munro over Zoom. He claims that DR3, the 3rd x St. George Coonawarra, Cabernet Sauvignon 20,21, offers aromas of raspberries with oak hints. He says the 3rd DR3 of St Hugo South Australia Shiraz 2021 is dark and brimming with pomegranate, berries, and raspberries.

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“I enjoy the freedom that I was granted to bring my personal taste to the bottle However, having Peter let me explore my preferences for flavour was fun too. I’m not an expert so I had to be careful in my opinions and ensuring that I was not overly dominant,” says Ricciardo.

“Entering this wine partnership with St Hugo is all about going back to my Italian roots,” adds Ricciardo. SUPPLIED

Although many want Ricciardo to race again by 2024, Ricciardo claims that taking a whole year to pursue different possibilities was necessary to improve his health. “Dad and I have always bonded over cars and racing, and that still is a big thing between us, but this was another reason to take our relationship to a different level,” Ricciardo says.

“We each have a love for wine. It’s a profession I can take him to and, while I was unable to take his to Barossa in January because of an operation he had to undergo, it’s a trip we can take together, and another way that to spend more time with each other.”

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The Dish

A signature dish from home

I’m not the most skilled cook in the kitchen; however, if I had to cook one meal, I could make a great pesto pasta. I make my pesto and use lots of basil, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil. I prefer using fusilli pasta. It’s delicious.

Pleasure with guilt

I am addicted to ice cream and can consume a pint of it all in one sitting. I am a huge fan of vanilla and will always choose an excellent quality product like Haagen-Dazs. I sprinkle a lot of Nutella and then make my own. Milo on top is equally amazing.

Kitchen Wisdom

I learned this at an early age in my life. It is much easier to clean up when you cook meals. You will stay calm if you clean the dishes so they don’t accumulate.

I remember my mom would always start by cleaning the workbench and organizing the food items that you’ll need. While cooking, I enjoy listening to music or podcasts. The kitchen is among the few places where I can get lost wholly focused on my thoughts and concentrate on cooking without distractions.

Favorite dish your Mum makes

Whenever I return home to Perth, I ensure that my Mum, Grace, cooks her famous chicken cutlets. I had this when I was an infant, bringing me back to the comforts of home. It also makes a fantastic salad of spinach with cranberries and pine nuts.

Favorite local restaurant in town

I spent much of my time in the Christmas period of 2022 dining at the Italian restaurant Pappagallo in WA. It’s a great place to enjoy Italian food, and the owner has a background as an Italian who came to Australia via a ship. I also adore their delicious chili mussels and highly recommend spaghetti vongole. It’s authentic Italian spirit, very welcoming and home-cooked.

The most famous café in Perth

Could I tell you about the cafe of my aunt in Perth? It’s named Sayers Little Brother, where I often go for home-cooked meals. It’s a cute little space, and the espresso is fantastic. I’m an oatmeal Latte fan – at most, two per day. I can only drink a second full strength when I’m exhausted; if I need another one, it’s always decaf.