Shavaughn Wells’ earliest memories are of growing up on a vineyard in Merbein, near Mildura in Victoria’s north-west. Her grandfather Syd Wells was a winemaker before taking on the role of managing director of Mildara Wines Limited in the 1950s and 1960s. He was responsible for nurturing her early interest in wine. Since those early days of stealing a sip from her grandfather’s glass, winemaking has always been Shavaughn’s passion.
After studying Oenology at Adelaide University’s famous Roseworthy Campus, Shavaughn graduated in 1998. Following in her grandfather’s footsteps, Shavaughn’s first vintage in 1997 was in her hometown of Merbein, working on the white wines at the Mildara winery.
Shavaughn then moved to Mildara’s Coonawarra winery in the late 1990s where she developed a passion for regional varietal wines. In 2000 Shavaughn further expanded her winemaking expertise. While working at Yellowglen, one of Australia’s leading sparkling producers, she learnt the sparkling craft from Charles “Chilly” Hargrave, a time she truly valued.
Healesville in the Yarra Valley was Shavaughn’s home from 2001 to 2003 where she worked with a broad spectrum of wines at Yarra Ridge and St Hubert’s, including Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This experience highlighted to Shavaughn the importance of understanding the impact of sub regions on varietal expression. Shavaughn’s understanding of sparkling wines and Chardonnay was enhanced during a vintage at Caves du Sieur d’Arques in Limoux, France in 2001.
Her winemaking repertoire continued to grow when she moved to the Barossa in 2003, joining the white wine team at Wolf Blass focusing on a Chardonnay project with Pierre-Yves Colin from Burgundy.
In 2005 Shavaughn began working on Saltram red wines alongside Barossa legend Nigel Dolan. Shavaughn believes the Barossa is such a fascinating place to work with Shiraz. “The unique expression of each sub region allows us to craft wines which truly reflect the Barossa’s distinctive character.”
Saltram’s long history in the Barossa has created its unique house style of wines displaying concentration and intensity. Shavaughn recognises the privilege of being a part of Saltram, which has been a significant contributor to the Australian wine industry since 1859.
In recognition of Shavaughn’s passion and understanding of Australian and international wine styles she was awarded a coveted Len Evans Scholarship in 2008.
Shavaughn continues to make premium red wines that are a true testament to the rich history and heritage of the Barossa.
Most recently at the 2013 Adelaide Wine Show Shavaughn Wells WON the Macquarie Private Wealth Prize For Winemaker of the Most Outstanding Red Wine in Show. The 2010 Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz won 2 TROPHIES and a Gold as was named the Most Outstanding Red Wine in Show and Best Shiraz in Show, while the Saltram No 1 Shiraz (2009, 2004 and 1996 vintages) won the Gramp, Hardy, Hill Smith PRIZE for Outstanding Wine of Provenance.