History

Orico Origins and the Maxwell family

Since 1979, family owned Maxwell Wines, with its eighty acre estate vineyard, has built a reputation for producing hand made, rich and robust reds that combine exquisite fruit quality with structure and finesse. The signature BOULEVARD Grenache and Good Time Shiraz reds are acclaimed for their cellaring potential and purity of expression. The white wines achieve freshness and superb varietal character via slow, cool ferments that capture the delicacies of the grapes. At Maxwell’s, we believe “Life’s too short to drink bad wine”. Owned and managed by Mark Maxwell , the winery employs a team of wine industry professionals who each take a hands-on (or paws-on) approach to ensuring Orico Wines maintains it’s reputation as a premium wine producer.

THE MAXWELL FAMILY

There has always been a love of wine and the vine in the Maxwell lineage. William James Maxwell, a noted Scottish sculptor, came to Australia in 1875 to do some artistic work on a building in Melbourne, Victoria. However, the cold damp climate of this city played on his health, so he moved three years later to the much more temperate climate of Adelaide, South Australia. A few miles south of the city at Edwardstown, he built a mock castle called “Woodlands Park”, and with the vines on the property made some very acceptable reds that he accumulated in the cellars of his unique home. His son John, with the thought of farming in his mind, acquired a property in the rich valley of McLaren Vale, 40 kilometres south of Adelaide. Here he and his sons ran a mixed farm of fruit, dairy, and of course, vines.

The War Ended

After the war ended in 1945, John’s youngest son Ken took over the management of the family property. His interest in winemaking also led to a period of employment with Hardys at the historic Tintara Winery in the heart of McLaren Vale. His passion for food and wine further led to the involvement in a revolutionary restaurant, called The Barn, of which he was the first manager.

Ken Maxwell

In 1970,In 1970, Ken Maxwell started a small self-contained winery on the eastern edge of his property, and named it Daringa Cellars. Here he and wife Margaret made and sold very high quality red and white wine. In 1979, Ken sold Daringa to the Dennis family and with Margaret and son Mark, started a new venture, an 80 tonne winery called, appropriately, Maxwell Wines. Within three years, Mark took over the day-to-day management and winemaking of the business, with the sound advice from Ken ever present.

William James Maxwell

On 8 August 1868, Baron James de Rothschild purchased Château Lafite.

On 8 August 1885, William James Maxwell purchased Château Maxwell.

THE MAXWELL WINERY

As the popularity of Maxwell Wines and Meads grew through the 1990s, Mark Maxwell realised that more space was needed. He then undertook the mammoth task of relocating the family winery to a site amongst vineyards he had owned since the early 1980s. Situated in the original heart of McLaren Vale, just north of the main street on gently rolling hills, this was the perfect place for a new winery to be built into the south-facing limestone hill, overlooking the township.

Spanning three main levels, the winery was designed to take advantage of gravity flow throughout the winemaking process, contributing to the outstanding quality of the wines. Constructed from limestone and old solid timber, the design also allows visitors the opportunity to view a ‘working winery’ while sampling the wines and taking in the magnificent views from the cellar door. Indeed from the cellar door one can see the five unique open fermenters that Mark’s father Ken built. Used for fermenting red grapes, the idea behind the construction of these was to recreate the gentle hand-plunging methods of years gone by. Taking a relatively long seven to ten days to ferment a parcel of fruit to dryness, these fermenters provide a soft method of extraction of colour, tannin and flavour from the skins and seeds to the fermenting juice. Holding only two tonnes of fruit each, it allows the winemakers the chance to focus on premium small-batch vinification techniques, and treat each parcel of fruit that enters the winery during vintage individually.

Importantly,a special barrel cellar was also designed into the new winery. Hidden away at one end of the winery, the cellar was cut into solid limestone. With a natural earthen floor and impressive limestone walls, the cellar creates an ideal environment of constant temperature and humidity, providing a perfect place to mature some of Maxwell’s best wines in barrel. With this stunning new facility, the annual crush of grapes was steadily increased to around 400 tonnes. Mark also expanded the range of wines to include a Verdelho and, as it came into bearing, some Viognier.

Outside of the busy vintage time, the Maxwell Mead continued to be made(Only sell in Austrail), with the family now recognised as the most significant (and largest) producer of this rare beverage in the southern hemisphere. Hence the winery actually has the dual function of being a meadery as well!