My wine story probably started with the planting of my parent’s vineyard in Nelson, New Zealand more than thirty years ago when i was about 15.
Pushing sticks into the ground didn’t seem very significant at the time, but in watching the vines grow and eventually produce fruit some four years later, I began to feel something special that led to my own adventure and journey into the world of wine.
I left New Zealand in 1993 and came to Australia to complete my wine science degree at CSU in Wagga Wagga and upon completion in 1997 I was every bit a product of the Australian system.
I was employed in the Hunter Valley at both The Rothbury Estate and at Oakvale before heading south to Tasmania and a winemaking job at Moorilla Estate in 2000. It was during my 5 years at Moorilla that I began working overseas harvests and was exposed to winemaking styles and philosophies that made me realise how narrow and blinkered my New World view was.
It was in 2005 that I left Tasmania and began my 10 year tenure at Bannockburn Vineyards in Geelong which is, arguably, where I forged my reputation. I was able to put in place the things that I had seen, learned and thought about for many years…whole bunches, extended time on lees, dry grown viticulture, skin fermentation of whites, acacia wood all came into play to maximum effect…but Bannockburn was not mine and after being left alone for years to create I began to feel that I needed to express myself rather than someone else’s legacy.
Mammoth was born first and foremost out of a need to express myself unhindered by others. It was never about business…it was always supposed to be personal and intimate. No bar codes, no scores, no distributors, no supermarkets…just wine, made the way I wanted to make it and sold to people who cared.
Although my journey began in Upper Moutere New Zealand, over the last few decades it has taken me far and wide – to Puglia, Campania, Sardinia and Tuscany in Italy. To the Mosel in Germany. To Provence and Burgundy in France and throughout Australia. Along the way I have seen, tasted and listened to a lot, but the memories that I have are as much about the people that I have met as the places that I have been. Wine is about people every bit as much as it is about place!
Why the name Mammoth? I get asked this a lot and the answer is that I have always loved mammoths. I love the creatures, I love the word and I kind of think that the mammoth conjures up something ancient and gone but not too far gone. I feel in a way that it has some kind of synergy with me…trying to make something intimate and special first and worrying about the money side of it second is like being a mammoth…glorious, fantastic, noble and surreal but constantly hunted by climate and man so undoubtedly doomed to extinction. Best drink up!