Mount Monument is a 600-metre high altitude, low-yielding, biodynamic-in-practice, single vineyard on rare volcanic silica soils in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges. The original 2.3-hectare vineyard at Romsey was first planted in 1998 to Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
In 2008, Melbourne architect, Nonda Katsalidis acquired the established, elevated site, improving the vineyards, undertaking land regeneration and developing water catchments, and building the large homestead.
Nonda established a new 2-hectare trellised vineyard on the north face of Mount Monument for Pinot Noir, as well as an olive grove producing estate-grown extra virgin olive oil.
The Macedon Ranges stands on both sides of the Great Dividing Range, around 65 kilometres north-north-west of Melbourne. It was first planted in 1850s during the gold rush by squatter pastoralists. It was devastated by phylloxera at the turn of the century but began its re- emergence in 1970s, so it is at once one of the oldest and youngest wine regions in Australia.
The Macedon Ranges is marked out by both its elevation and geology both contributing to low yields, slow ripening and high-quality wine production.
An altitude of 300–700 metres above sea level, Heat Degree Days 970–1050 and harvest between mid-March to early June make the region ideal for complex and early-ripening Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay. It is the coolest winemaking region in mainland Australia, with summertime Mean January Temperature (MJT) of 17.2 to 18.5°C, which is in the same range as the coolest wine climates of Champagne, Chablis, Tasmania and Rheingau.
Most of the soils are relatively skeletal mountain soils, typically granitic sandy loams that further restrict yields. Geologically, the Macedon Ranges lies on Ordovician (510-439 million years old, when the first vertebrates appeared) and Silurian (439-409 million years ago) sedimentary rocks from east of Ballarat to east of Mount Macedon. These are bounded on the east by the Cambrian Heathcote greenstone belt, intruded by Devonian granite rocks forming the Cobaw ranges and tertiary basalts and trachytes due to volcanic activity.
The Ordovician and Silurian sandstones and shales are acidic duplex shallow brown-yellow clay loams of low fertility. The granites of the Cobaw and steeper slopes of Mount Macedon are mostly free draining sandy to stony loams. The soils around Romsey, to the south and east of Gisborne and around Woodend are rich gradational sometimes red friable clayey soils, volcanic in origin and frequently found in contact with the Ordovician and Silurian duplex soils along old stream valleys.
At 600 metres, it is one of the highest points of the region. The vineyard sits at the base of a mamelon formed 6.25 million years ago (at the same time as Hanging Rock). The mamelon was created when the Australian plate moved northwards towards east Asia over a volcanic hotspot and thick, silica-rich, soda-trachyte magma erupted from a narrow vent in the bedrock and congealed in place.
The Mount Monument site has a north eastern aspect, with these minerally-complex volcanic soils consisting of grey loam over silica clays with variations of ironstone buckshot and quartz present.
Awarded Macedon Ranges Winemaker, Ben Ranken takes a minimalist approach including using natural wild yeasts, whole bunch pressing, fermentation in barrel, natural and malolactic fermentation and no filtration.