Trevor Mast, longstanding winemaker at Mount Langi Ghiran and legend of the Victorian wine industry in Australia passed away last night, following a five year battle with younger onset Alzheimer’s. He died of pneumonia at the age of 63.
Mast established Mount Langi Ghiran as a benchmark of cool climate Australian shiraz over twenty years, nurturing old vines in a dramatic, granitic site in the shadow of the mountain of the same name in Victoria’s Grampians region. The wine is widely recognised among Australia’s most distinctive and awarded single vineyard wines.
After studying at Geisenheim in Germany in the early 1970s, Mast gained winemaking experience in Germany, France, Portugal, Hungary and South Africa, before settling in the Grampians, first as assistant winemaker at Seppelts Great Western in 1975, then at Bests Great Western from 1976 until 1987. It was while working at Seppelts that he first encountered the distinctive black pepper character of shiraz grown by the Frantin brothers at Mount Langi Ghiran. He was instantly captivated by the wine, immediately arranged to meet the brothers, was appointed consultant winemaker in 1978 and purchased the property in 1987. In the mid-1990s he launched the successful brand Four Sisters.
Insightful and forward-thinking, Mast was a visionary decades before “cool climate” became a buzzword in Australian wine. Inspired by the potential of a unique site, first planted in 1870, he worked fanatically, seven days a week, to fully develop the potential of the vineyard, which he called his “fifth child”. In his words, he had a “love affair” with cool climate shiraz. He lived and breathed a new stylistic direction for Australian wine, one of spicy, pepper-infused character and fine-boned structure.
When he arrived, he worked in a very basic tin shed with garlic-smelling barrels in which the previous owners hung home-made salamis. Before he retired, Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz had been featured on the cover of Wine Spectator alongside Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace and Mast had been named a legend of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and nominated for Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine’s Winemaker of the Year. The reputation of Grampians shiraz in the wine world today owes much to his dedication.
With his trademark tangle of curly hair and gregarious, passionate personality, Mast was popular in Australian wine circles and is fondly remembered for his generous, inspiring spirit.
Mount Langi Ghiran remains under the ownership of the Rathbone Group, which purchased the estate in 2002. The Rathbone family has recently announced that it’s wine assets are being offered for sale, including Yering Station in the Yarra Valley, Xanadu in Margaret River and Parker Coonawarra Estate.
Mast remained at Mount Langi Ghiran until his diagnosis with Alzheimers in 2006. He was awarded a distinguished service award by the Victorian Wine Industry Association in 2008. Mast is survived by his wife Sandra, four daughters and six grandchildren.