The Mallaluka story begins in the late 1970’s in Ocean Grove, Victoria, in a street nestled amongst the paperbark trees, overlooking the Barwon River as it runs into the ocean. We suspect that whoever named the street “Mallaluka Avenue” did not know how to spell, since the name of the paperbark trees is spelt Melaleuca. It was where the next generation of the family was born and started to grow.
A love and appreciation of wine was always part of the family tradition, but mainly as consumers. It was not until they moved to Canberra that this involvement evolved into grape growing and wine making.
In 2001 the family purchased 40 acres of the legendary Yass Plains, 50km northwest of Canberra, and named it “Mallaluka”. The property was selected specifically as the site for a vineyard, as it sits on the deep, granitic soils of the plains, at an altitude of 560m, on a northeast-facing slope. The Canberra District boasts one of the coolest climates in Australia, comparable to that of the northern Rhone in France. The combination of the Yass Plains soil, the aspect of the vineyard and the cool climate results in grapes of the highest quality for winemaking.
The vineyard was planted in 2004. The grape varieties included in the initial planting are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Shiraz and Sangiovese. More recently, a small block of Gamay has been established and the next block will be planted to Pinot Noir.
The first block consists of 200m rows running approximately north/south, with 3 metre row spacing and 1.75 metre spacing between the vines. The vines are trained to bilateral cordons and are spur pruned to approximately 14-16 buds. This results in a yield of approximately 5-6 tonnes per hectare in a normal season.
The block of Gamay is to be trained as bush vines, and a similar technique is envisaged for the Pinot. The yield is expected to be much lower using this technique, but the quality of the fruit of these difficult varieties should be superb. Time will tell.
Mallaluka Wines is, by any measure, a boutique operation. We are committed to producing premium, handmade wines that reflect the very best of the cool climate Canberra District. The long, slow ripening period of a cool climate produces grapes that develop full flavour while maintaining their acidity. The tannins are also softer than those of warmer climates, resulting in fruit where all the necessary characteristics for making premium wine are in balance. We then employ the most successful and well-tested methods of boutique winemaking in Australia today. These include minimum use of chemicals, open vat fermentation, basket pressing, maturation in small oak barrels (predominantly French oak barriques), no fining or filtering, and bottling under screw cap seals. The result is wines of premium quality that are approachable at a young age, but have the potential to mature gracefully for many years in the bottle.