MPavilion (24 01 24)

Meet the Maker: Alister Timms, Chief Winemaker at Shadowfax Wine

Image courtesy of Shadowfax Wines

Alister Timms has always wanted to be a winemaker. Having grown up on his family’s vineyards on the Bellarine Peninsula, some of his fondest childhood memories revolve around the the world of viticulture.

These days, you’ll find Alister somewhere between the Macedon Ranges and Werribee. Since 2017, he’s held the position of Chief Winemaker at Shadowfax – a boutique winery nestled in the heart of Werribee Park. As we celebrate the launch of MPavilion 10 and our partnership with Shadowfax Wines, we caught up with Alister to talk about his experiences in winemaking.

Tell us about how you began your career in winemaking.

I grew up on a winery and vineyard on the Bellarine Peninsula, and my family also had a vineyard establishment business. During the school and uni holidays, I worked in all aspects of the business, from planting and growing vines to putting in vineyard irrigation and trellis establishment. I knew at a young age I wanted to be in the wine game, so I went off to Adelaide University to study Oenology.

You grew up on your family’s vineyards. What’s your earliest memory of winemaking?

My earliest memory and one that will stay with me forever is planting vines at 10 years old with Mum and Dad on our family property.

What does your average workday look like?

It’s diverse! Right now, we’re planting a new vineyard at our Little Hampton site in the Macedon Ranges, which I have been overseeing. So, I’m up at 4am, drive through the Wombat State Forest and watch the sun rise over Mount Macedon.

Once I arrive at the vineyard, I organise new vines to plant and run a crew of 24 to help plant 6,000 vines a day. Then, we have a quick break for lunch, share a bottle of wine and do the daily quiz, and wrap things up around 4pm. I rush back to pick up the kids (14 and 12) from their activities and have a dip in the pool to freshen up. I do a check of our property, feed 30 cows and calves and then finally enjoy dinner with the family (with a bottle of wine!).

What is something that you do every day?

Drink wine.

Where do you look for inspiration?

My (fellow winemaking) peers. Either in the wines they make, the vineyards they grow or the stories they tell.

What is unique to your region – something that you don’t see or find anywhere else?

The Macedon Ranges is the coolest region on mainland Australia. The deep red soils at an altitude of over 700 metres above sea level grow unique wines with rose hip notes in Pinot Noir, and minerality and power in Chardonnay.

How has your taste and style of winemaking evolved over the years?

I have let the wines express themselves rather than trying to manipulate them. So, I have been more hands off in the winery and learnt that doing nothing in the cellar but give wines time to grow is an essential part of winemaking.

What is a philosophy that you live and work by?

Enjoy yourself, have fun, celebrate successes, work hard and lead by example.

What excites you about this year’s MPavilion, designed by Osaka-based architect Tadao Ando? How do you see Shadowfax wines complementing the space over the summer?

This year’s MPavilion is one of the best yet and the architecture is innovative yet timeless. Ando’s design offers the perfect space to kick back on a warm summer’s day and enjoy a chilled glass of our Minnow Rosé or our Pinot Gris from the Macedon Ranges (as well as those stunning views of the Melbourne city skyline).

And finally, what’s your drink of choice?

Coopers Pale Ale – straight from the bottle.

Enjoy a glass of Shadowfax wine this summer at MPavilion 10, open until 28 March 2024, or organise a day-trip to visit the cellar door in Werribbee!

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Wominjeka (Welcome). We acknowledge the people of the Eastern Kulin Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which MPavilion stands. We pay our respects to their Elders, past and present – and recognise they have been creating, telling stories and caring for Country for thousands of generations.

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