Bryan established the vineyard as a weekend hobby in 1995 with a modest planting of Shiraz.
Tempranillo and Chardonnay followed in 2002. In-house winemaking began soon afterwards, when Bryan selected a bride with winemaking credentials. An oenology graduate who had cut her teeth with several vintages in Germany, the USA and at various small Victorian wineries, Eleana embraced the opportunity to build her own business from grassroots. Starting with nothing and juggling babies and multiple mortgages, she became adept at borrowing things and relied heavily upon the kindness of family, friends and neighbours. The first Mayford wines were released in 2007.
Since then, Mayford wines have attracted consistently glowing endorsements and a loyal customer following, selling out quickly every year. They have come to be regarded as benchmark cool climate wines, and the Tempranillo as one of Australia’s best.
The couple has since embarked on a program of planting for clonal diversification. Additional Shiraz clones were planted in 2008 and 2011 along with a small area of Cabernet Sauvignon. New Tempranillo clones were introduced into the mix in 2015. Further plantings of heritage clones across the three key varieties are planned over the next five years.
Mount Buffalo looms as a dramatic backdrop to what is one of Australia’s prettiest viticultural scenes.
The region is cool and highly continental; summers are hot and winters cold, bringing a thick blanket of snow to nearby peaks. The proximity of the mountains has a positive influence on vineyard conditions during the ripening season, strongly shaping Mayford terroir. Daytime temperatures are moderated and the nights cooled by katabatic mountain winds, known locally as the Buffalo Breeze. This unique climate enables grapes to ripen fully but slowly, with greater flavour and tannin development at lower sugar levels, and to retain aromatic intensity and natural acidity.
The vines are planted at 400m elevation on the shaly hillsides of a natural amphitheatre. Bony soils naturally restrict vine vigour, resulting in low yields, small berry size and good concentration. Harvest is a highly selective process at Mayford, where hand picking of small parcels enables flavour and tannin ripeness to be optimised.
At Mayford we take a sustainable approach to grape growing. We keep chemical inputs to a bare minimum, opting for bird netting and multiple passes of shoot and fruit thinning and leaf removal, all done by hand, to ventilate the canopy and reduce disease pressure. No insecticides are used and only fungicides that are gentle on predatory insects and mites, are permitted.
Multiple small lots are hand-picked and made as separate batches, using a range of winemaking techniques, depending on variety and vintage, but always with quality and balance in mind. The motivation is to create wines with aromatic complexity, palate length and tannin structure – wines that have longevity.
Winemaking tends towards the naturalistic; indigenous yeasts, naturally occurring enzymes and bacteria do their good work for us without the need for tinkering.
Chardonnay is hand-picked and gently whole bunch pressed into French oak barriques, around 25 % new, for fermentation and maturation.
Tempranillo and Shiraz undergo a cold soak prior to fermentation. A combination of whole bunches and crushed, de-stemmed fruit is fermented in small open pots with vigorous hand plunging and extended post fermentation maceration, to extract and refine tannins, before being basket pressed into French oak barriques.