Hectares/Acres: 75 ha (180 acres) vineyard planted 1984-2003. Majority planted on their own roots with a diverse range of clonally selected varieties used. A small amount of Riesling, Viognier and Tempranillo is planted on rootstock.
Cool to cold and wet winters (650 mm rainfall). Warm to hot and dry summers. Mean January Temperature 21.9°C. Rainfall is heavily winter dominant with most rain falling between May and October. Frost and hail risk is minimal.
Generally described as duplex red brown earth over clay, with slate and broken bluestone sub-soil. Nutritional status is generally low to moderate in terms of vigour potential and drainage hazard is generally low.
The majority of our older vineyard has an east to southeast aspect (away from the hot afternoon sun). Some of our newer plantings have a more westerly aspect.
A standard 2 metre vine spacing with a 3m row spacing is set up for total mechanisation. A single wire VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning) trellis system is standard, using treated pine posts and steel intermediates, 1.8 m above the ground with a single cordon wire at 1.0m with two moveable foliage wires for vertical shoot positioning.
The entire vineyard is fitted with an in line drip irrigation system. Irrigation is only applied when necessary, i.e. to keep vines functioning at their optimum levels to produce the best possible quality grapes. Iyr average irrigation usage over recent years is less than 0.5mL/Ha
Hand spur pruning only (mechanized pre-pruning on most varieties) leaving an average of 40-50 buds/vine. Crop levels are on average 7.5 tonnes/ha (3 tonnes/acre.)
A mid-row cover crop is planted every alternate row every other year. Mid rows are sub soil ploughed prior to cover cropping to avoid compaction.
Triticale is the preferred species for mid-row cropping as it produces a rapid vegetative mass which is either turned back in by disc ploughing, or slashed and sprayed off (depending on seasonal conditions).
A limited dressing of phosphate and nitrogenous fertilizer is applied at the time of cover crop seeding.
Under-vine strips are mulched both with the mid-row slashing’s and with locally grown cereal straw which is spread every three to five years. This has a multi-purpose benefit of reducing soil moisture losses through evaporation, improving soil structure through added organic matter and reduced chemical inputs for under-vine weed control.
Pest & Disease:
Clare is generally regarded as one of the safest high quality viticultural districts in Australia in respect to the risk of pest and disease of grapevines. The low rainfall and low humidity which typifies this region during the growing season is not conducive to a high risk of fungal disease. Powdery mildew is the most common of these which is normally easily controlled with routine elemental sulphur sprays. Downy mildew and botrytis can be a problem in unseasonally wet years. Insect problems are confined to lightbrown apple moth which are normally controlled with a biodynamic chemical agent. Overall the routine spray program is very “soft” and is close to organic status, however we remain pragmatic in our approach to our pest and disease control program.