Our vineyard is situated in the bosom of the Murrumbateman wine country, just a half hour north of this fine nation’s capital, Canberra, or Kanbra as we call it. Whilst technically not the centre of the universe, we think it’s a pretty neat place to grow grapes, hang out and freeze our butts off each year.
This vineyard is planted with a mixture of varieties based on fairly precise scientific, meteorological and market information of the day. Either that or we are making it up as we go. Shiraz is the main crop and we have four different clones planted at the moment: Best’s selection old vine, the generic but awesome 1127, R6WV…um..28? from Tahbilk and a new one, ENTAV 470 from France apparently. If you want to study shiraz clones, look to the AWRI website, there’s a shit load of information there.
Then we have a fair bit of Riesling planted, they are all Geisenheim clones - 110, 198,239. Sangiovese would be the next most planted variety, three clones MAT6, MAT 7, VCR23. And finally we have a mixture of whites that invariably go into the Grainery or Seven Months blends: Marsanne, roussanne, viognier, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. New varieties like Gamay and Nebbiolo are being planted over the next few years plus a couple of different varieties that might suit our elevated position here in Murrumbateman.
Our vineyard is managed under what could loosely be called natural forestry principles. Vines comes from forests right so they are not meant to be grown as a mono-culture as you’ll no doubt see in every ad or depiction of vineyards. Those super neat, rolling hills of perfectly herbicided vines and clipped grass is meant to emote in you a feeling like you could grab a picnic basket, a loved one and run downs those perfect rows. Sure, does to me as well but the vines themselves are used to clinging to life in the competitive arena of a forest. They are used to existing with many other species of plants and microbial life. They want soft grounds so they can reach out their root systems, interact via mycorrhizae with other plants. So they should look kinda scary, wild, diverse. That’s our plan, we ditched the big tractors a long time ago, use a cute little Italian tractor that minimises compaction but really we try and keep machinery out of the vines. We are currently encouraging lots of different plants that produce long tap roots to get established, find their place and hopefully become part of our forest, we really try and not use any chemicals, certainly nothing that can harm the natural state of the vineyard. It takes time to reverse years of doing what everyone else is doing but its having an effect already. Even after a very hot summer (2019) the vines exist in a calm place, the soil soft, fully covered with other life and you get a cooling effect walking among them.