Some of you reading this have been part of our Maxwell family since 1979, and for some of you it has been your parents who discovered us. Our business as always been about offering value and consistency to our loyal members. To keep in contact by phone and email, creating special memories for you during your visits to the winery, hoping to have an honest and value driven relationship into the future.
We have a great appreciation for our members, it was your continued support through this time that has kept the business alive. I sincerely hope the Pandemic hasn’t affected your health or livelihood and you can look ahead to see the light at the end of that famous tunnel.
The key to a small family owned business, like Maxwell is the enthusiasm and loyalty of my team. I can say with real pride that it’s such a joy to come down the hill to work every day to find smiling faces tackling the chores, whether its writing a new menu for the restaurant, pumping wine into barrels or pruning old vines on a winters day.
The start of the 2020 vintage was drier than average with rainfall 20% below average, a benefit being low disease risk. In late November, we had a very hot day followed by strong gusty winds, which reduced the crop by up to 50%. The vines then endured a hot December, but relief came in January, with a period of a 12 days straight of a perfect 30 degrees.
Welcome rain came in early February, which helped to freshen the leaves.
We started harvest on February 20th, hand picking some Tempranillo and Shiraz 2 weeks later. The result has been wines of intense flavours and colour, but only half the volume of a normal year. It's hard to predict the future, now more than ever but whatever unfolds, I trust we can continue to keep our friendship alive and of mutual benefit.
In cellar doors, in wine shops, from journalists, even on back labels , is a recurring theme of how the vines have been treated.
It could be by sustainable viticulture, holistic, organic, biodynamic, hydromatic ** sorry.. that’s a song from Grease. With a variety of different methods, we are clearly moving from mass production to caring about the quality of fruit and respect for our environment. Every time a tractor drives along a row of vines to plough or prune or harvest or spray, it compresses to soil and so makes it harder for the new tender roots to push through.
One recently adopted alternative is to run sheep in the vineyards over winter, to eat the weeds undervine and midrow. This is a win-win for the sheep owner who gets extra weight on his flock, and for the grape grower who doesn’t need to spend money and time on poisons or undervine cultivating , and the waste from the sheep goes back into the soil.
Our experience here over the last 2 years has been very rewarding and so we will continue to re-fence certain blocks to allow sheep to help with the life cycle of a bottle of wine.
Having the cellar door and restaurant closed was hard for our devoted front of house team to bear. We have been forced to do things a little differently such as Zoom tastings, getting social on Facebook Live and I’ve (Vikki) been hitting the phones to offer our members special deals.
During this time, it was joyful to chat and share stories. People shared their personal memories with me, it was if we all remember how to really connect with people again. One member was making an anniversary dinner for her husband and wanted to recreate their wedding-day memories buy buying the wines that were served on their wedding day. Another shared with me that her dad had passed away during this period. Not able to attend the funeral with restrictions in place, she bought his favourite wine and sat with glass and remembered him.
We are so fortunate to have such a supportive community and I can’t wait to welcome you all back.
Tragically, in December 2019, the grower vineyard for our esteemed Kangaroo Island Shiraz was destroyed in the bushfires that devastated the island. For those who have had the pleasure of tasting this wine, you can understand what a devastating loss this was. This was our chance to support our friends on KI but to also give back to an island that has given us so much.
Our Bushfire Fundraising dinner held in January was an incredible success. We received an overwhelming amount of support with tickets selling out in days and many suppliers generously donating produce. Fabian Lehmann and his team put together a 6 course Australian feast featuring classics with a Maxwell twist. The night then ramped up when our auction got into full swing and everything from Maxwell magnums to overnight stays on KI were up for grabs. Our fundraiser raised over $30,000 for small businesses who had been directly affected by the KI bushfires. One of those charities was SAVEM. Below is an overview from SAVEM on how your contributions have helped our beloved KI wildlife.
Two-thirds of the Island burned out of control for 22 days. Vast numbers of livestock were lost. Wildlife losses were shocking - early estimates ranged from between 50 and 70 per cent lost. SAVEM’s pro-bono veterinary effort was valued at about $300,000.00 and the cost of our consumables for that period was just north of $160K - a significant portion of which was purchased on the Island to support the local economy. Maxwell Wines’ donation has contributed significantly to meeting our consumables costs.
A big thank you to everyone who helped make this event a success.