In the summer of 2023, having succeeded to Malivoire Wines’ top management role, Shiraz Mottiar faced an immediate decision that would be among the most important he’d ever have to make. Our erstwhile Winemaker would be tasked with the appointment of our next one. The bar was high, and he’d set it himself. In his own tenure as Winemaker, Shiraz had established a lengthy track record with a creative style that defined Malivoire and secured its reputation.
Nevertheless, he didn’t look far, and he didn’t have to. From its beginning, Malivoire has preferred whenever possible to promote from within. Eighteen years earlier, Shiraz himself had assumed the mantle after rising through the ranks as cellar hand and Assistant Winemaker. When his own turn came, he had taken pains to train his staff for the future. And so, Elisa Mazzi, who had been hired and mentored by Shiraz, now accepted from him the reins as Winemaker.
Elisa did not come from a wine industry family, but born in Verona, on the doorstep of the Valpolicella wine region of northern Italy, she had grown up surrounded by vineyards and wineries. Their presence was infectious; after briefly considering physiotherapy for a vocation, Elisa enrolled in a Viticulture and Oenology university program in Trento.
On graduation in 2010, her next step was to gain experience, but opportunities in Italy were limited. Portentously, an acquaintance convinced her the burgeoning Canadian wine industry might be a be a more promising path for her resume.
Being unilingually Italian, Elisa had to gain English language skills, but she landed a temporary cellar position at Jackson-Triggs. Her Canadian career could have ended after only a taste; she went to New Zealand next for a harvest with Oyster Bay, but with valuable experience gained in sparkling wines, red wines and sauvignon blanc, she returned to Canada, where she came to the attention of Malivoire Winemaker Shiraz Mottiar.
Shiraz was recruiting for the 2011 harvest and hired Elisa as cellar hand and lab technician. Her work ethic impressed him, and the position became permanent. Within five years, he had promoted her to Assistant Winemaker, with lead responsibility for sparkling wines. It was soon apparent that Elisa would be his natural successor when the time came.
Shiraz knows the reputation he built for Malivoire has been entrusted to strong hands. He’ll tell you he has proudly observed Elisa’s willingness to take on ever-greater responsibilities and to put her own stamp on them. He knows she has immersed herself in the culture and creativity that built Malivoire’s reputation.
Still, if Elisa should have winemaking adventures of her own in mind for Malivoire’s future, what then? Shiraz dismisses the question with a confident wave; “We crush grapes here, not dreams”.