Trevor Mast of Mount Langi Ghiran, one of the leading figures of the Victorian wine industry in Australia, succumbed to pneumonia last night. For the last few years he and his family had been coping with the effects of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. He was only 63 when he died.
Trevor studied at Geisenheim in Germany in the early 1970s and, while a student, worked at wineries not just in Germany but in Hungary, Portugal and France too. After graduating he worked for a while for Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (SFW) before returning to Australia in 1975. A popular figure, he was largely responsible for putting Victoria's Grampians on the international wine map, after having worked as assistant winemaker at Seppelts Great Western and then winemaker at Bests Great Western from 1976 to 1987.
Despite his background in white wine, it was Shiraz that captured his imagination: 'Working at Seppelt as a white-wine specialist, I found myself banned from the red winemaking area. One day towards the end of vintage there was much excitement at the red-wine camp as they hovered over one fermenter. Edging my way closer, I smelt a wonderful aroma of liquorice, black (not white) pepper and very aromatic overtones. I asked what variety was in the tank. They said a Shiraz some Italians had grown. One more whiff and my curiosity took hold; I arranged to meet the owners, well-known local concreters, the Fratin brothers, on their vineyard. Two vintages later they approached me to make wine for them at the vineyard. Then the love affair started in earnest!'
In 1978, the Fratin brothers appointed Trevor Mast as consultant winemaker. Inspired by the potential of the vineyard and keen to develop it further, Trevor Mast bought the property that was to be known as Mount Langi Ghiran, with Ian Menzies, in 1987 and over 20 years established its cool climate Shiraz as a benchmark - long before the current vogue for this style.
Langi Shiraz has been included in Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine's 'Top 10 Australian Shiraz' list every time it has been compiled. In 2003 Trevor was named a legend of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival and nominated for WINE magazine's Winemaker of the Year. Trevor judged regularly at the Melbourne, Hobart, Rutherglen and Mount Barker (Western Australia) wine shows. In 2008 the Victorian Wine Industry Association awarded him a distinguished service award.
Mount Langi Ghiran is currently part of the Rathbone Group which was recently reportedly put up for sale. Other components include Yering Station of Yarra Valley, Xanadu of Margaret River and Parker Coonawarra Estate.
The funeral will take place this Friday at 11am at Stella Maris Catholic Church, Charlotte Road, Beaumaris to be followed by a wake at the Beaumaris Pavilion Hotel.