Combining traditional winemaking techniques with the new has led Dom Maxwell to create expressive wines that speak of place, especially pinot noir.
Beneath Dom Maxewell’s gruff, slightly threatening exterior is a gentle, thoughtful and guardedly enthusiastic man totally devoted to making top wine. Maxwell sums up his winemaking technique as “both very traditional and as breaking new ground”. My own observations suggest greater emphasis on traditional winemaking during his early years with Greystone followed by a move toward less conventional winemaking as his understanding of his wines and vineyards grew.
Maxwell has worked overseas at Chehalem in Oregon, USA, Weingut Leitz in the Rheingau, Germany and at Domaine d’Eugénie in Vosne-Romanée, Burgundy. His experience in other countries helped him to develop a philosophical stance for the wines at Greystone.
Greystone crushes about 400 tonnes in their certified organic facility, including fruit for several smaller vineyards and sister vineyard Muddy Water. Maxwell and his team control all steps of wine production from vine to bottle. Operating their own bottling facility allows them to bottle wines without filtration in search for the ultimate expression of season and place.
Greystone hit the ground running when they released their first wines but their reputation has grown dramatically. They have had such success with riesling, pinot gris and gewürztraminer that it is tempting to describe them as an aromatic wine specialist but to do so would downplay the brilliant pinot noir, syrah, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay that have emerged from their cellars.
In 2012, Maxwell produced the first vintage of his own pinot noir project Forager, which explored fermentation in the vineyard, exposing the fermenting must to vineyard yeasts and allowing the vintage weather conditions to play a greater role in the character of the wine. Since 2013 vineyard fermentation has been extended to Greystone’s Estate Pinot Noir and the flagship Thomas Brothers Pinot Noir. “I see it as providing harmony, complexity and interest by way of giving a clear seasonal expression. These wines have captured not only wine media globally, but seem to be garnering plenty of winemaker interest, too,” explains Maxwell.
It’s not all about the winemaking, Greystone’s wines have also benefited from Maxwell’s close working relationship with talented viticulturist Nick Gill. “Good communication and a clear understanding of our goals has provided the key to getting the best out of grapes from each part of the Greystone vineyard,” Maxwell states.
Maxwell lives with his wife Nadia and their two daughters in the small community of Leithfield. “It’s a place that’s great for balancing the soul through a combination of nature and community,” he says.