Joseph Maiden

Joseph Maiden

Maidenii is named for British botanist Joseph Maiden (1859-1925), the original champion of the eucalypt and the acacia. When Maiden first landed at the untamed colony of New South Wales in 1880, he could not have foreseen the wonders that awaited him. At a time when his peers saw only a barren and hostile land, Maiden was astounded at the botanical wealth he discovered and dedicated the rest of his life to studying and cataloguing native flora. His passion for the botanical riches of Australia inspires the spirit of Maidenii.

Gilles Lapalus

Gilles Lapalus in Central Victoria

With over 30 years experience in the industry, Gilles Lapalus has wine flowing through his veins. The third generation of a wine-producing family hailing from the Cluny region of Burgundy, Gilles embarked on a prestigious career that has seen him work as a winemaker in the French regions of Burgundy, Languedoc, Medoc, and Beaujolais, and further afield in Tuscany, Campania, Chili and Australia. In 2001, Gille’s moved to Australia to become the manager of bio-dynamic viticulture and winemaking at Sutton Grange Winery near Castlemaine, Central Victoria. Without his knowledge and experience, Maidenii would not be possible.

Shaun Byrne

Shaun Byrne

Shaun Bryne has developed his love and understanding of the beverage industry through a rich career at some of Australia’s best bars. It was while managing Melbourne institution Gin Palace that the owner Vernon Chalker introduced him to Gilles. Vernon foresaw that Shaun’s cocktail experience and self-professed ‘bar geekery’ was the perfect complement to Gille’s winemaking knowledge. It was Shaun’s innate understanding of the classic Martini and Negroni that allowed them to tailor their Sweet and Dry styles with the bartender in mind. Shaun’s industry knowledge and enthusiasm has been pivotal for propelling Maidenii to the forefront of the Australian beverage industry.

Vernon Chalker

The innovator behind some of Melbourne’s most loved bars, Vernon Chalker started out working for distinguished international hotels before opening his own catering business. He began to dream of establishing a great cocktail bar and in 1997 Gin Palace was born. More than a decade later, Gin Palace still going strong, Vernon’s entrepreneurial spirit led him and Shaun to start pursuing the perfect martini. They considered and rejected the idea of creating their own Gin or growing olives until they struck on the perfect solution; Vermouth. Vernon understood that Vermouth was the perfect  foil for Shaun’s understanding of the alchemy of making twigs, seeds and bark into fragrant tinctures and Gilles viticultural talents. Vernon’s patrons were the first to enjoy the early vintages of Maidenii and ever since he has watched with pride as their Vermouth earned its place on the shelves of great bars and restaurants around the world.


Lauren Bonkowski


Like many before her, Lauren found herself in that time-honoured profession of young creatives; bar work. Although this was just meant to pay her way through uni, she discovered that many hospitality innovators needed designers who understood their Negroni soaked visions. Shaun and Gilles were two such clients. She’s been working with them closely since the birth of Maidenii from strategy and naming to the ever important packaging. The challenge was to position Maidenii as a high end product within the traditional Vermouth category whilst introducing it as a “new” drink to the general public. Her success garnered her a double gold for label design in the 2014 San Francisco International wine competition. Shaun keeps her on call at all hours of the day and you’ll hear no complaining as long as there are Maidenii samples to try.