Our wines are often inspired by a sense of Place.
The vineyard is an incredible ecosystem. It continues to amaze me that every year the vine can be cut back so heavily, yet it grows so vigorously and produces such incredible fruit; year in, year out.
There are so many factors that influence the fruit we pick, that is used to make the wine we drink.
To name a few: the weather, amount of water (rainfall and whether the vineyard is irrigated or dry grow), nutrients in the soil, exposure to sunlight and, of course, ripening conditions.
Some of these elements are entirely out of our control. For example, for the 2020 vintage, we had above average rainfall in Spring, crazy hot weather in early December (2019) which affected bud flowering and at harvest, unprecedented rain which slowed ripening.
Therefore, the factors that we can alter are so incredibly important.
In September 2019, I attended a field day workshop with Dr Mary Cole, who spoke at length about creating a "soil web", one where soil microbes prosper and organic matter is used to feed the vineyard. When one element in the web is disturbed, the entire biological system can be disrupted.
Now I'm no expert in this field, but Dr Cole's words really resonated with me. And so, it is important to us that the fruit we pick is as sustainable as possible, where the soil health is considered and harsh pesticides and synthetic fertilisers are avoided.
For our own vineyard, this means that every year we try to improve the way we do things. And for the vineyards that aren't our own - we work closely with our growers, whom we have had long standing relationships with, to ensure their farming practices are aligned with our own practices and beliefs.
Lakeside Vineyard, Knowsley
Our little one acre of Shiraz vines were planted in 2003 by Peter and Sharon Armstead. Located only 150m from the northern banks of Lake Eppalock in Knowsley, this unique easterly facing site has a shallow strip of Cambrian soil snaking through the middle of the vineyard. The remaining soil is clay loams.
Comprising only 25 rows and approximately 600 vines, our vineyard was spur pruned from 2003 to 2018. In the winter of 2018, we decided to transition to cane pruning, for the longevity of the vines. We use no herbicides, hand weed and use only a very small amount of spray to prevent against fungicide and disease in those wet and humid months.
The fruit is hand-picked every year by us, with the help of family and friends. We start early to beat the heat and follow up with a long booze lunch on the front deck overseeing the lake.
In 2019, the fruit from our Lakeside Vineyard became our Wirilda Bay "Lakeside" Syrah.
Mount Burrumboot Estate, Colbinabbin
Located at the northern tip of the Heathcote Wine Region, in Colbinabbin, Mount Burrumboot Estate is owned and operated by Cathy and Andrew Branson.
The vines were planted in 1999, and include both Marsanne and Shiraz, as well as other red varieties. Being farmers for generations, the Bransons heed to the philosophy of minimal intervention and sustainable practice: they care for their soils, follow organic practices and encourage the diversity of soil microflora, so that each vine receives natural nutrients.
Irrigated by the Waranga-Western Channel, the vineyard runs north to south over deep, fertile, ancient Cambrian soil. A combination of hand-picking and machine harvesting is undertaken every year.
In 2020, the fruit from this vineyard became our "RAD" Late Harvest Dessert Marsanne.
Dead Horse Hill, Toolleen
A unique 4-acre Shiraz vineyard located 20km north of the Heathcote township in Toolleen. Planted in 1994 by Jencie McRobert, the dry-grown site is located on mineral-rich Cambrian soil.
At an altitude of 203m and on an easterly facing slope, the berries are are always intense and full of punchy tannins. Following the principles of sustainable viticulture, Jencie hand-prunes the vineyard every year and uses organic, sustainable fertilisers to enhance soil quality.
The fruit is hand-picked by Jencie, Russell and their family and friends to ensure the bunches remain whole.
In 2020, the fruit from this vineyard became our Dead Horse Hill Shiraz (only 75 bottles were produced).
Merindoc Vineyard, Tooborac
A unique site at the southern end of the Heathcote wine region, owned and operated by the Shelmerdine Family. Being just on the cusp of the Heathcote-Macedon Ranges divide, the landscape is studded with ancient granite boulders.
The vineyard (Chardonnay, Riesling and Shiraz) was planted in 1994 and runs north to south at an altitude of 321m. To the north-west of the vineyard is the McIvor Creek, fast flowing after the winter rains in the Macedon Ranges.
The soil is granitic; ironstone and granite sand, with sections of yellow and black cracking clays. The cooler night temperatures over harvest allow the berries to ripen slowly on the vines, developing floral and bright fruit characters in the fruit. The fruit has always been hand-picked.
Sadly, the vines were pulled out in the winter of 2020.
In 2019, the fruit from this vineyard became our Blanc-de-Blanc and in 2020, it became our Charlotte Chardonnay.
Coliban Glen Vineyard, Kimbolton
Located on the western banks of Lake Eppalock is this beautiful vineyard. It's easterly facing, so catches the morning rays, and is irrigated by the Lake.
Planted in 1996 on loamy soils and owned and operated by Peter Raeburn, this distinctive site produces Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon with crisp acidity every year. Being in the southern pocket of the Heathcote GI, the vineyard is slower ripening, allowing the berries to develop floral and fruit notes.
The vineyard is hand-pruned and hand-picked, and the passion Peter has for his vines shows through every year in the exceptional fruit he produces.
In 2018, the fruit from this vineyard became our Matilda Reserve Shiraz.