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Stilvi Wines has made a big splash in the small-batch wine space in the three years since its 2020 launch. Specialising in ambitious, “minimal intervention” wines – made with no modern equipment, filtration or fining – the Red Hill-based Stilvi is the realisation of a long-held dream for owner and winemaker Tim Elphick.

Elphick’s interest in small-batch winemaking was piqued 20 years ago during an eight-month stint at Azienda Agricola Brezza, a fourth-generation winery in the small, north-western Italian village of Barolo. He was inspired by the region’s rich winemaking traditions and the dedication of its producers as much as the “intoxicating” Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Fiano and Freisa varietals produced.

“These were and are inspirational people unafraid to get their hands dirty, with a humility and passion for their craft,” he says. “Earthy and authentic people with a love of the land and their vinous pursuits.”

While making wine for others, from the Yarra Valley to Languedoc, Elphick always envisioned starting his own label. His move to the Mornington Peninsula was a big step in that direction. “Being close to the beach and sublime vineyards ticked the boxes for me,” he says.

His connection to the local environment is evident and extends beyond his hands-on, lo-fi winemaking approach. Elphick, a keen paddleboarder and ocean swimmer, praises the region’s “sublime, diverse natural beauty”.

Stilvi (meaning “shimmering light” in Greek) has become known for its high-quality amber whites – Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Field Blend, a Chardonnay/Gris fusion – as well as its Pinot Noir and Red Fusion, a spicy Moorooduc Shiraz infused with Flinders Tempranillo and a splash of Red Hill Pinot Noir.

“I was inspired to make minimal intervention wines that are not fined or filtered, white varietals soaked or fully fermented on skins,” says Elphick. “Unusual red blends, whole bunch fermentation and experimental alchemy! Wines to create a little conversation. Made for food, vibrant, fresh, with their own unique personality.”

Tim’s experience in Barolo informed the Stilvi philosophy from the outset. “I love using the senses of sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch we are gifted to create something unique,” he says. “Winemaking is so tactile and earthy, it's definitely what drew me in.”

Sustainability is important – his equipment includes old French oak and Spanish terracotta vessels – as is the cross-generational connection: Elphick’s daughter Kalypso is the label designer. “Displaying my daughter’s artwork on the labels brings me so much joy,” he says.

Away from Stilvi, Elphick shares his extensive knowledge of wine as co-manager of the Merricks Store cellar door, but it’s the accomplishment of launching and growing his own label, and “seeing people love and embrace the slightly unconventional approach we are taking,” of which he is most proud.

You’ll find Stilvi Wines on shelves locally at Merricks Store, Peninsula Beverage Co in Mornington and Red Hill, Blairgowrie IGA, and Independent Wine Store in Rye. Private tastings with Tim are available by appointment for small groups of up to 6 people.