Meet the Margaret River Maker: Livia Maiorana from South by South West Wines

In this series, we chat to the makers behind some exciting small-batch labels in the Margaret River Wine Region, who, whilst honouring the region's hero grape varieties, are challenging the boundaries with new wine styles and approaches. South by South West Wines was shortlisted as 'Dark Horse Winery' in the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion Awards, and winner of the 'People's Choice Award' in the 2019 Young Gun of Wine.

Livia Maiorana shares a little more about the philosophies of South by South West Wines and their love of Margaret River, as well as some tips about highlight activities within the region.

What about your approach makes your wines unique?

I guess for us, unique is more so about our approach. I think winemakers are all striving to produce quality wines made form nature's lottery (climate, sun, water). Every vineyard and winemaker has a philosophical matter, but in the end all the stars must align for the magic to happen, and it’s the magic that we are all trying to make in our own way.

For us, the magic is all in producing honest wines which tell stories to express its origins and ethos. Authentic wines that respect the land, are sustainably farmed and made, rationally and humbly handled in the winery, honourable to vintage and true to the region. We want anyone drinking our wine to pick up a natural charm, that only inspired farming practices and sensitive, thoughtful winemaking can deliver.

Favourite Margaret River 'alternative' style to make and why?

Our favourite ‘alternative’ style we make and are known for is probably our play on a Super Tuscan style we make and have endearingly called ‘ Super Margs’. The ‘Super Margs’ is the wunderkind of our portfolio. It’s a style that breaks ranks and gives a Margaret River nod to the old world maverick Tuscan winemakers. Stylistically, this wine celebrates and heroes Sangiovese, whilst linking the soul and tradition of the Margaret River region with Cabernet Sauvignon. It smells like Margaret River, so there is the link right up front, but transports you to Italy with a playful acid line and some rustic tannins.

Why do you like making wine in Margaret River?

Simple, Margs is a grape growing paradise! Being one of the most geographically isolated wine regions in the world comes with a heap of benefits!

The wild (but pristine) natural environment lends itself to lower disease pressures and minimal intervention farming, due to the strong maritime influence on the mediterranean climate, the ancient gravelly soils, and a long, dry ripening season. The fact you can grow grapes organically/biodynamically and sustainably in the region is amazing to us, and the future of the region.

Theoretically, it is all of those things mentioned above, however practically, I guess fundamentally for us it is equally about the dynamic winemaking community that exists here. There are classical winemakers and winemaking, intermixed with a new generation bringing fresh energy and contemporary approaches to these classical styles, as well as exploring alternative varietals, styles and expressions.

It’s this juxtaposition of Margaret River that we find so damn sexy. Wines from ancient soils, but modern winemaking. Wines that are powerful, but elegant. Traditional, but contemporary. Serious but fun. We are all about that!

Favourite place to eat in Margaret River and why?

There are too many great places to eat within the Margaret River region. Choosing one is just too hard. To be honest though, our favourite place to eat is probably at our house, which overlooks part of the magical Margaret River. There is something special about being able to hunt and source seasonal food from the region and cook it up yourself. With a local glass of Chardonnay, you can’t beat fresh crays or abalone you have dived for, or marron you have snared!

Favourite nature based activity or place in the region and why?

That is a tough one as there are so many! It's hard to go past surfing one of the many awesome breaks in the region, but just going for a swim in the River (or a walk around it in winter) at the end of the day and floating/walking amongst the Marri trees and wildlife is hard to top.