Q&A with Halliday

Fast Five: Emma Ferguson

By J'aime Cardillo

2 Mar, 2023

In this series, we ask industry members to share the five drinks that shaped their lives.

Emma Ferguson is the wine gal and co-owner of No Mafia and Balthazar in Perth, which she runs with her life and business partner Daniel Morris. She started out slinging booze at popular spots Duende and Il Lido back in 2012, after a few years of chasing waves and wine in Margaret River, and was part of the team that opened Print Hall back in its glory days. Over the years, Emma has taken part in five vintages across Sardinia, Spain, Great Southern and Margaret River.

Emma Ferguson

01. 2012 COS Rami
Sicily, Italy
This was on the opening list of No Mafia back in 2014 when orange wine was totally taboo to Perth drinkers. I’m pretty sure we were one of the first wine bars to have an orange by the glass. People really liked it – particularly with our food. It took some time and explaining, but before long people were loving it! It’s still a regular on our list.

02. El Maestro Sierra Fino
Jerez, Spain
I remember my first trip to Spain like it was yesterday. It was July 2014 – I had been selling and learning all things Spanish for a couple of years while slinging booze at Duende Tapas Bar in Leederville. I walked straight off the plane into a cab and headed to this awesome little sherry and wine shop in the middle of Jerez on a hot summer night. Drinking fino straight from barrels behind the bar. Game changer!

03. 2017 Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay
Margaret River, WA
Wow, what a stellar wine! I was lucky enough to try this vintage on release at Cullen during a trip to Margaret River. It looked amazing on release and continues to amaze me every time I revisit!

04. 2011 Occhipinti SP68 Rosso
Sicily, Italy
This has always been one of my favourite wines. It was one of the first new-wave Italians that I really fell in love with, and Arianna Occhipinti soon became a hero of mine. I travelled to Vittoria to check out her vineyard in the summer and it was amazing to see such elegant wines being produced from such a hot region, particularly coming from a hot region myself (Perth).

05. 2012 Artuke Pies Negros Rioja
Rioja, Spain
I was lucky enough to try this wine straight from the barrel in the underground cellar (under the boys’ house). We had an amazing tasting with brothers Arturo and Kike. We stayed for hours drinking wine and sampling homemade sausage, despite the fact they spoke no English and our Spanish was very basic. The language of good food and great wine was all we needed.

This article appears in issue #68 of Halliday magazineBecome a member to receive the print publication as well as digital access.