Take 5: Samuel Leyshon

Samuel Leyshon is a winemaker and part owner of Canberra District Mallaluka Wines in Yass, and was recently named in the top 50 of Australian young wine labels and winemakers by Young Gun of Wine.

Sam Leyshon
Samuel Leyshon, 37, of Mallaluka Wines has been named among Australia’s top ‘young guns’ of wine. Photo supplied.

How does it feel to be named amongst the top 50 ‘young guns’ of wine?

I don’t really enter many competitions or do many trade tastings, to be honest. Nor do I send my wines to be critiqued. I like to fly under the radar a little. But I guess I just lacked the confidence to really put myself out there. With a gentle push from someone I trusted, I gave it a go. Top 50 is a fantastic accolade from such an organisation such as Young Guns of Wine, and this is enough for me. I hope this can encourage and inspire some young (or old) winemakers to try and get themselves into the local industry. C’mon, we need you!

What does that mean for Mallaluka?

This means my brother is coming up from Melbourne at the end of the year to help us grow. It’s his fault that I feel pressured to get out into the public more, so we can increase production just a smidge, so he too can have an income … selfish really, haha! 

How did you/your family get into winemaking? How was Mallaluka born?

John Leyshon (my dad) has made wine for many, many years and has always had an interest in it. He planted vines in 2004 on this property, making wine with his three other close friends. They ran a small and humble operation that came to an end, amicably, after nearly 20 years. In 2015 we decided to give it a crack ourselves to see what might happen. A lot has happened. It has certainly given me an opportunity to let my artisanal and creative side run wild.

What makes the Canberra District special for you and for the wine industry generally?

I’m in this district for that’s where my family planted the vineyard. I’m sure we could do this anywhere, but I really, really love how small and supportive the Canberra wine district community is. We are a very small district that punches very far above our weight and get to be part of a history in the making. We’re the underdogs and I love being so.

Tell us about Mallaluka’s winemaking process and wine offerings. 

They are very Lo-Fi wines with minimal intervention and/or manipulation. We use natural yeasts and we do not fine or filter or add anything but a pinch of preservative. We don’t want to make something you recognise or find in a commercial environment. We want it to challenge, interest and excite you. Push a boundary or two. But we also know very well that it won’t do this for everyone. Some people just won’t get it, and that is totally fine! I’ve never really followed the pack and these wines, I believe, reflect that ideology.

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