A palate for success

Seville Estate Winery wins 2019 Winery of the Year
The Southern Farmer
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SUCCESS THROUGH THE GENERATIONS: In 1972, Dr Peter McMahon (pictured right) planted the first grapes in the red soils of the Yarra Valley. Some 46 years later his grandson Dylan (left) would receive news that Seville Winery had been named the James Halliday 2019 Winery of the Year.

IT was 6pm, and Dylan McMahon was rushing out the office door.

It had been a busy day, and he was looking forward to heading home; cooking dinner with his wife, spending time with the kids and maybe enjoying a glass of wine.

Cutting across the office on his way out, the phone rang.

It was the call vignerons wait a lifetime to receive.

Australia’s foremost wine critic, James Halliday, was on the line – personally delivering the message that Seville Winery had been named 2019 Winery of the Year.

“It’s not every day the boss of Australian wine reviews gives you a ring,” Dylan said.

“We had a bit of small talk – but in the back of my mind I was thinking, what is this about?”

Seville Estate was founded in 1972 by Dr Peter and Margaret McMahon, who planted chardonnay, pinot noir, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon cuttings in the red soils of the Yarra Valley.

At the time, local winemakers questioned their sanity, with mutterings of shiraz grapes that would never ripen, let alone produce.

Some 46 years later and their grandson, Dylan, received the highest award on the Australian wine circuit.

“I was just astonished – I was gobsmacked; this is the biggest award Seville Estate has ever won – a once in a lifetime award,” Dylan said.

James Halliday, in the 2019 Halliday Wine Companion, said the vineyard boasted an “absolutely dazzling array of great wines made over the 2015, ’16 and ’17 vintages”.

In an interview, Mr Halliday also said it wasn’t the first time Seville Estate had been noted for its outstanding vintages.

“Seville Estate hasn’t now just popped out; it’s been a consistent trophy and gold medal winner from the word go,” he said.

Seville Estate produces cool-climate wines across 26 acres of vineyard.

TEAM EFFORT: It takes more than just good wine to create an award winning product, and no one knows it more than the team behind the scenes at Seville Winery. Winemakers Dylan McMahon and assistant winemaker Jarrod Johnson, with their team including the big man Vineyard Manager Andrew Peggie, Nicole Cathels, Tony Layton, Jarrod Johnson, Soren Thogersen, Annie Kane, Daniel Bell, Val Agim, Emma Sommers, Caroline Butt, Dylan McMahon, Yiping Wang, and Tianfan Wang. Photographer- Nicole Cleary

Owned by a Chinese businessman, Yiping Wang, the foreign ownership has allowed expansion and modernisation – both important in an increasingly competitive domestic market.

Over the last 18 months, Mr Wang has purchased the adjoining vineyard and property, established accommodation on-site in the original homestead and built self-contained apartments.

His investment has also allowed Dylan to begin preserving the original clonal material, by grafting the 1972 vine materials onto phylloxera resistant rootstock.

“It’s really important that we preserve the original plantings,” Dylan said.

“My grandparents started this place, so it’s our heritage.”

The 2017 vintage is the one that has everyone talking, and Dylan said it had been a benchmark year.

Starting cool, the season was dry with little winter rain – with the Yarra Valley experiencing frosts and even snowfall.

A cool and wet spring delayed budburst and flowering, followed by a warm and dry summer – making for ideal flowering and fruit set.

High disease pressure around Christmas was managed with well-timed sprays and canopy management.

“For me, some of the highlights are in chardonnay and pinot noir, where delayed vintage enabled the wines to develop intense flavours at low baumes – sugar levels – and maintain great natural acidity,” Dylan said.

“The shiraz and cabernet are also exceptional, and I feel 2017 will go down as one of the best vintages of Seville Estate yet.”

The Seville Estate 2017 wines will be released on allocation from this month.

For more information, go to www.sevilleestate.com.au.

More farming news and stories can be read in the October, 2018 print edition of The Southern Farmer or click here to access digital editions.