Xanadu celebrates its 40-year anniversary this year after being founded by Dr. John Lagan in 1977, an Irish literature enthusiast who was inspired by the natural beauty of the Margaret River region. He drew parallels between Samuel Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan that described Xanadu as a mysterious and idyllic utopia and site of his first vineyard plantings.
To help celebrate this milestone, we sat down with our winemaker Glenn Goodall to get the low down on what its like working at Xanadu.
1. Tell me a little bit about the History of Xanadu? The history of John Lagan and when you started working at Xanadu.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride, starting with Xanadu while it was still family owned, going through the expansion phase where Xanadu was listed on the ASX for a few years and finally coming full circle back into family ownership under the Rathbone Family. Dr John, and his wife Eithne, obviously put a lot of hard work into establishing Xanadu. John was a real character, a bit of an eccentric character who loved to hold court and spout a bit of poetry at any opportunity.
2. What vintages, in your opinion, were stand out years in quality?
Hard to pick as we’ve had so many over the last decade! 2010, 2012 and 2014 were highlights for me when it comes to Cabernet. Chardonnay is even more difficult, but I have a soft spot for ’12, ’13 and ’15 vintages.
3. What do you love about Xanadu wines and Margaret River?
Xanadu is an unbelievably beautiful place to live and work. Great climate and environment for growing grapes with the bonus of awesome surf beaches, lush bush, great fishing and a wonderful community. The culture. We work with, and for, one another because everyone buys into the same team culture which makes it enjoyable coming to work every day.
5. What is the best time of year to visit Xanadu?
Autumn. Consistent fine weather, usually plenty of swell and because it is the vintage period there are plenty of international visitors in town working the harvest period which really adds to the vibe.
6. What is your favourite part of property?
I probably walk into Lagan Estate Chardonnay more than most blocks, because it’s such a bellwether for how the season is tracking. I like the empty Kangaroo paddock behind the Lagan dam a lot for its serenity (and nobody can find me), but there is no doubt that the Stevens Road vineyard has the most beautiful aspect and vineyards on the property.
7. What kind of music does Xanadu team listen to at the winery?
There was a lot of Triple J radio (the wine pumps interfere with AM frequency) or Reggae, but a few CD’s and playlists got thrashed so Spotify has been a blessing mixing it up a bit more . . . still plenty of Reggae during the day though!
8.What is your “Desert Island” Xanadu wine?
2012 Stevens Road Chardonnay was one of our best, although I could probably drink the current 2015 vintage Chardonnay for brekky, lunch and dinner if I was stuck on a desert Island.
9.Tell us about the famous Vintage parties.
Fancy dress is a great leveller. Varied themes, from ‘come as your favourite truckie’, to ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Drag’, is always a good way to relax during vintage. The Omni-bin ‘hot tub’ sessions have featured pretty regularly with the night shift, but as they say ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.’ The camaraderie aspect is an important part of the vintage experience, while avoiding the short straw and having to do pump-overs the morning after a vintage party, is also worth noting.