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Vineyard


Vineyard characteristics

Macedon Ranges, Victoria, Australia

Founded 1987
635 metres above sea level
Rainfall 1000 mm / year
Dry grown, mulched
Close planted 1.5 m x 1. 5 m
Average yield / vine .5 kg - 1 kg
Harvest - late April to late June
Minimum sprays used
 New French oak used
Oak maturation up to 48 months
Extended bottle age before release
Wines unfiltered or minimum filtration used
Decanting recommended
Production usually around 100 cases ( 12 x750 ml bottle size )

The Site

Extensive scientific research was undertaken before the selection of this site for planting vines. Our philosophy is that the vineyard is the major contributor to the quality of a wine. Our site is located around 90 km north of Melbourne in the Macedon Ranges near the town of Tylden. At an elevation of about 635 metres above sea level, the vineyard is on top of a hill which was part of the rim of an ancient volcano.

The deep gradational red soil comes from olivine basalt of recent volcanic activity , is free draining but does not overdry during summer. The site is in a rain shadow and generally misses any late summer rainfall and bad weather that can occur in other parts of the region. Another influence on the site is the presence of a large body of water – Coliban Reservoir – just to the north which has a moderating influence on the hot dry winds of mid-summer, thus reducing stress on the vines . Many of the world"s great wine regions are located in close proximity to  water . Rainfall occurs mainly in winter and is around 1000mm annually, with snow usually falling most winters. Fortunately winter rains do not seem to begin till July, and so we are able to leave the grapes on the vine for a very long hang time and can attempt to make some late picked styles.

Site Management

An Integrated Pest Management system is practised , where there is a minimum use of chemical sprays and natural predators are encouraged to control pests. We use fungicides that specifically target a particular disease and try to use the least number of sprays through a constant disease monitoring program. While not certified organic, we attempt to follow this path as close as we can. Permanent swards of grass are maintained between the vine rows and the undervine area is mulched with straw. In 1991 when we planted our vines, the use of straw mulch was rare and almost non existent in cool climate viticulture. These practices have been carried out for over 18 years and it has been noticed that mushrooms readily grow in the vineyard and that there is a large population of lizards and frogs present, indicating a healthy environment. Apart from the obvious benefits to the soil of improved structure and moisture retention, there are some not as well known advantages of the use of straw that we have discovered over the years. The straw actually can provide extra warmth at vintage time by reflecting the sun’s rays helping ripening and can also soak up any rain that may happen to fall at this crucial time.

However, the most influential management tool we have used has been the decision to close plant the vines, following the traditions of Europe rather than the “ New World”. Even in early 21st century Australia, there are only a handful of close planted vineyards. Obviously, a close planted vineyard requires much more management input, but the benefits justify the efforts as we hope you experience when you try our wines.

Our vineyard is planted 1.5 metres x 1.5 metres and this has a number of beneficial effects. In these times of dwindling access to water supplies, the use of close planting means we don’t have to irrigate our vines. The floor of the vineyard remains mostly shaded in the hottest months, so there is reduced water stress on the vines. This also leads to the root system exploring the inter row area, providing the vine with more potential nutrients and so more complexity to the grapes, which means better quality wine. Close planting also influences the Mesoclimate of the vineyard. Even though the surrounding area may be windy, the close proximity of the vine canopies to each other means there is a reduction of wind movement throughout the vineyard, so that the vine leaves function more efficiently. Less chemical sprays are needed as there is reduced drift and more effective spray penetration, putting less pressure on the environment. An unexpected bonus is that this reduced air movement within the vineyard also enables the sense of smell to be utilized, in conjunction with sight and taste in selecting the optimum time to harvest grapes – you can actually smell the grapes ripening!