Custom designing, establishing and hand maintaining our own vineyard has allowed us to produce the specific wine styles, blends and premium quality wine we desired. Two vineyards were established at Bridgewater on Loddon, a town 40km North West of Bendigo in Central Victoria. The 10 acre property owned by Dominic’s parents was planted in 1996 using cuttings of Shiraz, Cabernet and Malbec we had propagated from 30 to 100 year old non-clonal vineyards known to be producing exceptional fruit. The grapes from this vineyard now contribute the principal components of our Shiraz Viognier and Cabernet Malbec wines.

In 1997 we began planting our own 20 acre property using the best clones available of Shiraz, Tempranillo, Cabernet and Viognier. The grapes from this vineyard produce the Shiraz and Vineyard Blend wines, contribute Viognier to the Shiraz Viognier blend and of course produce the Tempranillo wines; the unwooded MT and, if the vintage conditions are suitable, the Special Release Tempranillo.

We were instrumental at every stage of the vineyards establishment – surveying the vacant land, driving in the trellis posts, running cordon, foliage and dripper wires, planting and then training the young vines. The only thing we didn’t do ourselves was drive the D8 bulldozer to deep rip the land! Trellising with 2.85 metre row widths and 1.75 metre vine spacings was chosen over the more traditional 3 metre row width and 2 metre vine spacing as a way of reducing the yield produced by each vine, hence improving quality, whilst maintaining the overall yields per acre from the vineyard. All vines are hand pruned by the family to a maximum of 22 buds per vine and the shoots trained using two moveable foliage wires to maintain a ‘Vertical Shoot Positioning’ canopy management system. Minimal drip irrigation from the Loddon River supplements the regions low average annual rainfall of 425 mm and helps to control vigour, stress and ultimately fruit concentration. The generally dry conditions during the growing season provide a naturally low disease risk that is easily managed using minimal quantities of copper and sulphur as fungicides, treatments which are permitted by organic viticultural protocols.

Through the set-up of the vineyard, careful pruning and, if required, crop removal at veraison, we restrict our yields and maximise the concentration of fruit flavours in the grapes. It is this flavour development, as determined by tasting and visually assessing the skins, pips and stalks, that is the critical factor determining the start of harvest. Grapes are either hand picked by family and friends into 20 kg crates or machine harvested in the cool of the early morning. Either way, the close proximity of the winery to the vineyard ensures the grapes are in optimal condition when delivered to the winery.