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Meet the Macedon Ranges Young Guns of Wine

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The Young Gun of Wine Awards shines a light on emerging young winemakers. In 2020, Macedon Ranges winemakers stole the show.

Young Gun of Wine (YGOW) is a search and showcase of winemaking talent, open to both young wine labels and winemakers on the rise. And there’s a posse of Macedon Ranges winemakers flying the flag with gusto as emerging wine producers.

What is the Young Gun of Wine Winemaker Awards?

A young gun is not about a date of birth. It’s about spirit and being young at heart.

‘The thing about emerging wine producers is they’re a source of innovation, inspiration and new ideas. They’re not shackled by conventions. They’re free.

Wide-eyed; adventurous; eager to travel; to experiment; to remix, they question everything. They create energy. They excite. And this is how they lead’.

Young Gun of Wine

Young Gun of Wine believes there are no better examples of this than Lyons Will Estate, Dilworth & Allain and Wilimee Wines, who all made it into the 2020 Young Gun Top 50. In fact, Dilworth & Allain took out the top Young Gun award as well as Best New Act.

These young guns are part of a dynamic local winemaking community ensuring the potential of the coolest wine-growing region in Australia is being tapped in exciting ways.

According to YGOW, some even tout the Macedon Ranges as the best territory for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the country.

We spoke to these three young guns of wine to find out more.

1. Dilworth & Allain family on an outdoors waxing and labeling mission 2. Wilimee Wines in Lancefield 3. Dilworth & Allain YGOW finalist pic (Credit: www.instagram.com/younggunofwine/)

Dilworth and Allain

Winemakers Chris Dilworth and Loique Allain of Dilworth and Allain are the winners of the 2020 Young Gun of Wine Award as well as 2020 Best New Act.

They currently work with three different vineyards in the Macedon Ranges, two of which they work in themselves. It’s a small-batch affair. As in they make approximately 350-400 dozen bottles per year. It’s also a family affair, with two young kids in tow.

1. You’ve recently been awarded Australia’s Young Gun of Wine for 2020 out of 50 finalists across the country. And Best New Act. What do you think you’re doing differently that has earned you these two amazing accolades?

Not too much is different in many ways. When we think about making wine we think of it as lots of little decisions along the way that accumulate to give you the final product. With time and experience you fine tune your decision making process.

We’ve been working in the wine industry for 12 years now, including working in many different wine regions in Australia and Europe.

All these lived experiences have influenced how we live our lives and make wine.

2. The Macedon Ranges is considered to be a hidden gem in the Australian wine scene. What made you choose to settle in the region with your young children over other more well-known wine-growing destinations?

We first visited with Josh Cooper to stay with Nelly and Alan Cooper at Cobaw Ridge in 2009. We fell in love with the region and its wines.

We had been searching for somewhere to start a small winemaking business of our own for years. This was where we had the opportunity, at the beginning of 2017 (thanks to Owen Latta and Family at Eastern Peake, who offered us employment and space to make our wine in their winery).

The climate and soil are hugely important, they can, to a large extent determine what style of wine will flourish in a place.

The climate being cool is beneficial in many ways but in general, it allows for wines to speak of where they are from. This is what we seek in our wines.

3. Can you describe three things you most love about being a winemaker in the Macedon Ranges?

That it’s not overdeveloped and there’s space and potential.

The landscape is beautiful

So many interesting and delicious wines coming out of the region. To name some of many – Cobaw Ridge, Josh Cooper, Bindi, Epis, Lyons Will, Wilimee, North, Curly Flat and Shadowfax.

4. You produce small batch wines in every sense of the word and your second release has already sold out, with a long waiting list for the next release in August. Do you have plans to expand your operations in the future to cater to demand?

We would like to grow our business to a size that accommodates our family.

We are exploring opportunities to make more wine. We purchase grapes from local growers who have great vineyards and this is a limiting factor. The area under vine in the Macedon Ranges is comparatively small when compared to other wine regions.

We would love to grow our own vines in the future and hopefully that opportunity will manifest.

5. Your winemaker-partner-in-crime Loique is also an accomplished artist (her linocut prints for sale on your website are divine). Has her creativity played a role in your journey as winemakers? And did she design your wine labels?

Yes Loique is very supportive, her energy and creativity are influential to our business. It’s great to have your life long partner who is also your business partner. Fortunately we work well together, we have a creative relationship which allows us to explore different ideas.

The label design is a birds-eye view of Lake Daylesford. The lake is for us a common ground, a place we love to be in and engage with the community. We thought it embodied part of who we are and Loique had the skill to execute that really well.

6. You specialise in Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. If you were to crack open a bottle, what would you suggest pairing each of them with for a mind blowing gourmet experience?

Riesling and crab or any seafood. Also mussels and chips.

Chardonnay and roast chook is special.

Pinot Noir and duck is a winning combination.

Where to buy Dilworth & Allain wine (and Loique’s limited edition, landscape-inspired linocut prints)

They don’t have a cellar door but you can buy direct from the Dilworth and Allain’s online store.

Alternatively email info@dilworthandallain.com.au, or call Chris on 0455 744 217 or Loique on 0450 716 232.

Find out more about Dilworth & Allain wine, retail stockists and how to buy limited edition art prints by Loique.

Follow on Instagram @dilworthandallain

Dilworth and Allain YGOW

 

My Artichoke Heart Loique

‘My Artichoke Heart’ 50 x 90cm. One of many landscape-inspired limited edition prints by Loique for sale on the Dilworth & Allain website

Lyons Will Estate

Winemakers and vignerons Ollie Rapson and Renata Morello are behind Lyons Will Estate, a 70-acre property in Lancefield.

They specialise in Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Gamay made exclusively with estate-grown fruit. Everything is done by hand, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and traditional winemaking techniques. They’re also parents to two young kids.

1. With all the amazing young Australian winemakers making their mark in the industry, making it as a YGOW finalist is quite an impressive feat. What do you believe you do differently and/or better that got you this recognition?

Not sure we necessarily do things differently, but for us it really is about being passionate about our wines and what we do.

Our wines are about trying to express where they grow and the uniqueness of the Macedon Ranges, as much as they about using more traditional and manual winemaking techniques to achieve something a little different.

2. You have also won Gourmet Traveller Wine’s 2020 Australia’s Best Cellar Doors Awards category for Best Small Cellar Door (Macedon/Sunbury region). What can visitors expect from an experience at your cellar door that has earnt you this fantastic title?

Yes that was exciting for us as there is some great competition in the region. We opened our cellar door only a few years ago and for us it is about being able to share our passion for what we do with our customers.

The cellar door is situated amongst our oldest Pinot block and is within the winery, so you get to experience first hand what we do and where we do it. You will either be greeted by myself or Ollie and depending on when you visit you may even get to see some of the winemaking process.

3. Lyons Will Estate is at the base of the Cobaw Ranges in Lancefield. Most people have never heard of the area or even realise it’s such an easy day trip from Melbourne. What can people expect from a wine tasting trip in Lancefield and  what else would you do in the area to turn it into a full day trip or getaway?

It is a gorgeous region and so close to Melbourne. A real gem.

There is loads to do like walking in the state forest or visit other local wineries in the region, or the gardens around Mount Macedon, or shopping and enjoying some delicious produce around Kyneton. Perfect place to escape Melbourne for a day.

4. What makes wine-tasting in the Macedon Ranges different to other regions in Victoria?

You will get to talk to the owner or the wine maker. We are generally all small family run businesses so when you visit you get to really experience the passion of those growing the grapes or making the wine.

5. Out of everything that goes into making wine by hand, which element of the process do you each enjoy the most?

Definitely harvest day. Picking the grapes and then getting them into the winery to process has to be the most exciting day of the season. We get to taste what the grapes taste like and celebrate al the hard work in the vineyard.

6. You’re 2019 Lyons Will Estate Riesling has fared well with the critics, earning you 92 points (four stars) by Gourmet Traveler Magazine this April and a crackingly good review (see below). What would you suggest pairing this with to create a mind-blowing gourmet experience?

I love the Riesling with a delicious pate or terrine or fish. We have made it as a food wine so really it is up to the drinker.

“Lyons Will is a serious new player in the Macedon Ranges. A complex style of riesling, involving older barrels. Lemon pith, yeasty, faintly nutty bouquet; refreshingly nervy in the mouth with a trace of sweetness balancing the frisky cool-climate acidity”.

– Gourmet Traveler Magazine

Where to Lyons Will Estate wine

Online orders

Order via the Lyons Will Estate online store, email info@lyonswillestate.com.au, or call 0412681940. Currently offering free shipping on all orders of 3+ bottles for delivery within the Macedon Ranges and 6+ bottles Australia wide.

Cellar door

Cellar door open by appointment and on the 4th weekend of the month (Sat & Sun 11-5pm). 60 Whalans Track, Lancefield. No tasting fees apply.

They are offering table service for cheese and meat platters and a tasting experience. For more information or to book, email or give Renata or Ollie a call on 0412 681 940. Please note that as the situation is constantly changing, this arrangement may be different at the time of reading, due to the latest COVID-19 guidelines.

You can also buy direct from the cellar door to takeaway (10% discount on all purchases of a case or more at the cellar door).

Learn more about Lyons Will Estate.

Follow on Facebook and Instagram @lyonswillestate

lyons will estate

Wilimee Wines

Ben Ranken (along with partner Sally Richardson and their two kids) are behind Wilimee Wines in Lancefield.

Set upon 5 hectares, Wilimee Wines has some of the oldest vines in the Macedon Ranges. At an altitude of 600m, the cool climate is perfect for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The vineyard is also next to a sacred quarry, once mined for its greenstone, which was used to make stone axes by the Wurundjeri people.

1. This is the third year in a row you’ve been a finalist in the Top 50 Young Gun of Wines awards. What is it about Wilimee Wines that you believe has led to becoming a finalist year after year?

A combination of the quality of our wines, conversion of the vineyard to organic practices, beautiful labels and packaging, and an interesting and relevant story that consumers relate too.

2. What inspired you to get into winemaking?

My parents in the early 1980’s, established a vineyard in another cool climate region, Tumbarumba, in the foothills of Kosciuszko.

As a child and teenager, I spent many hours picking, and pruning etc. After failing to be inspired by engineering at Uni, I thought it best to go back to a profession that was half indoors, half outdoors, with an opportunity to travel and work anywhere in the world.

Of course being able to have a drink and work was also appealing!!!

3. What do you like most about your life as a winemaker in the Macedon Ranges?

There’s a great community in the surrounds of Lancefield. We’re also close to Melbourne (our major market) and the Macedon Ranges is the coldest grape growing climate on mainland Australia.

This means growing grapes/wine is a premium and with the climate warming, gives our children an opportunity to be viable in the years to come.

4. It must be quite time and labour intensive to handpick your grapes – why do you choose to do this?

It certainly is intensive and expensive to pick grapes by hand, but it’s essential in maintaining quality to produce high end, bespoke wines.

Machine picking breaks up the grape skins so the internal part of the grape is exposed to oxygen, similar to an apple browning, flavours change and you then lose control of the winemaking process as yeast and bacteria can begin to spoil the fruit.

Hand-picking ensures the bunches are intact so that when they arrive at the winery, we (as the winemaker) can decide how to proceed with the maceration and ferment of the grapes, thus limiting spoilage to the grapes to produce a high quality wine.

5. You talk about ‘rare Cambrian soil’ on your vineyard. What is this, why does it make a difference to your wine, and just how rare is it to find wine grown in this soil type?

Wilimee is the only vineyard in the Macedon Ranges on Cambrian soil. The Cambrian era, stems from the time on earth some 500+ million years ago.

This red clay soil was once the sea floor, over time the Mt William fault line inverted the sea floor to vertical, so that the Cambrian soil follows the Mt William fault line from South to North, but is only approx a few hundred metres wide.

This narrow band of earth finishes on our farm and then picks up again at Heathcote (which makes the Heathcote wines quite famous).

Obviously Wilimee is much higher in elevation (600m) and colder than Heathcote. Also significantly, neighbouring our vineyard is the ancient Aboriginal quarry, called Wilimee Moor-ing, meaning ‘place of stone axe’.

Wilimee Moor-ing (Mt William stone axe quarry) is located on the Cambrian soil and interspersed with Greenstone rock. This rock when split, gives a very sharp edge, perfect for axe heads.

Wilimee Moor-ing is approx 1500 years old, making it one of the oldest quarries in the world. Fortunately the landholder in the 1970’s donated some of their land to form the quarry which is now heritage listed and an extremely significant site.

It’s also the reason we re-named our property Wilimee, from the previous owners name of Portree. Our wine labels are inspired by Wilimee Moor-ing and the stone axe heads.

6. Your specialties appear to be Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. What would you recommend pairing your wines with that creates a mindblowing taste sensation?

Our favourites are food vendors from the Lancefield Farmers’ Market. Specifically the chicken from Yapunyah Chicken.

These meadow-grazed chickens are delicious whole roasted, stuffed with lemon and tarragon, with tarragon also under the skin. Crisp roast potatoes and rosemary soaked in the jus of the chicken are a perfect match with our Wilimee Chardonnay.

As for the Pinot Noir, a roast leg of lamb from local Gisborne farmer Ray Monde Deux. These lambs are farmed by rotational and mixed grazing with Regenerative farming practices. Simply delicious.

Where to buy Wilimee Wines

They don’t have a cellar door but you can buy directly from Wilimee Wines online

Alternatively email wine@wilimeewines.com.au or call Ben on 0400194361 or Sally on 0406 320 104.

Learn more about Wilimee Wines

Follow on Facebook @Wilimee Wines or Instagram @Wilimee_Wines

Your ultimate guide to Macedon Ranges that deliver

You might not be up for a road trip just yet. Or you may want to try a bottle from a label that doesn’t offer a cellar door experience.

It’s easy to get a taste of the Macedon Ranges at home.  Use our guide to Macedon Ranges wine delivered to Melbourne (and beyond).

And don’t forget to share your love for at-home Macedon-Ranges wine tasting with us on Instagram @VisitMacedonRanges #MacedonRangesNaturallyCool

Cellar doors in the Macedon Ranges

Wine tasting in the Macedon Ranges is a great adventure. You’ll drive down unsealed roads through rolling farmland and amazing granite outcrops. Be treated to a relaxed, friendly welcome from small, family-oriented wineries. And enjoy produce and tasting platters using locally grown and raised fare paired perfectly with your wine of choice.

Check out our directory of cellar doors in the Macedon Ranges and plan a day trip or getaway. As the situation is constantly changing, make sure to reconfirm opening hours and COVID-19 operating conditions with the cellar door in advance.

Our Travel Advice FAQ page also lists the current opening status of local cellar doors (and their restaurants), which we aim to keep as up-to-date as possible.

And remember – if you’re unwell, please take a rain check, get tested and remain at home. When it’s safe again to roam, our cellar doors will be ready for you.

Find out what’s happening in the Macedon Ranges this month

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