pruning
We start pruning later than most in late June/early July. Pruning carries on through the winter months and is complete by September.

We prune later for two reasons. Firstly, at the end of vintage, the wines don’t drop their leaves until winter sets in. Pruning before the leaves fall off robs the vine of valuable carbohydrate that it is storing for budburst. Secondly, it encourages the vines to delay their budburst (hopefully) until after the time when frost is a major risk to young shoots.

We prune by hand using three traditional techniques:
Rod and Spur in our Shiraz and Malbec, Spur in our Cabernet, Grenache, Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc vines, and Bush Vine for our Mataro.

During winter, blends are assembled and moved to the bottling hall for bottling. This allows some time in bottle before the wines are released.

pruning
We start pruning later than most in late June/early July. Pruning carries on through the winter months and is complete by September.

We prune later for two reasons. Firstly, at the end of vintage, the wines don’t drop their leaves until winter sets in. Pruning before the leaves fall off robs the vine of valuable carbohydrate that it is storing for budburst. Secondly, it encourages the vines to delay their budburst (hopefully) until after the time when frost is a major risk to young shoots.

We prune by hand using three traditional techniques:
Rod and Spur in our Shiraz and Malbec, Spur in our Cabernet, Grenache, Zinfandel and Chenin Blanc vines, and Bush Vine for our Mataro.

During winter, blends are assembled and moved to the bottling hall for bottling. This allows some time in bottle before the wines are released.

budburst to harvest
Spring moving into summer is a wonderful time in the Barossa Valley. The hills fade slowly from winter green to yellow and as the vines send out their shoots, the valley floor is transformed with the bright green explosion of new growth.

In the vineyard, it is a time of regular monitoring. Every year at this time there is the off chance of some form of challenge thrown down by nature; be it a dry springtime or storms with heavy rain and hail before Christmas or a heatwave before vintage. Being out and about in the vineyard allows us to adapt and react quickly if the need arises. Although, if you’ve lived here long enough, you can understand why the pioneers thought of the Barossa as their own piece of paradise. More often than not, the weather is kind and the threat to crops, rare. It truly is the ideal place to grow top quality grapes year in, year out.

Being near the foothills the gully breezes protect our patch from frosts most years and are a valuable cooling influence during the ripening period.

The wines we bottled in winter are released in September. Newsletters are posted out reporting on the new wines and the quality of the last vintage. At this time, in the winery, we are busy racking new vintage reds after malolactic (or secondary) fermentation.

grape picking
When the grapes are fully coloured up and looking cherry ripe, it’s time to get the buckets and snips out of the shed.

As Christmas holidays and summer draw to an end, neighbours, friends and family are called on to help pick grapes as another harvest begins.

We normally start picking Chenin Blanc and Shiraz in March and finish with Grenache in late May, although in 2002 we had our “last pick” on the 7th of June. Vine Vale is the latest ripening district on the valley floor.

All of our grapes are picked by hand with a pair of snips, dropped into a bucket and thrown into a grape bin where they are transported no further than half a mile to our winery, located centrally among the vines.

crushing
Before vintage we are busy cleaning down equipment in the vintage shed and waxing the basket press ready for the first load of grapes.

Our wines benefit from the fact they are estate grown, this means within hours of the fruit being picked, its being crushed. The fruit never travels more than 400 metres to the point its processed.

Our crusher was built by Geoff Loechel, Christian’s father-in-law, and modelled on the old wooden Bagshaw crusher used at Rockford where Christian learned his trade.

fermentation
Parcels of fruit from all the different blocks on our vineyard are fermented separately in open fermenters.

Our small batch open fermenters allow us to enhance varietal characters whilst building immunity to oxygen, that way our wines will age gracefully for years to come.

basket pressing
Before the ferment is fully complete, we drain each fermenter using gravity to feed the wine into underground tanks.

The skins are shovelled into one of our oak basket presses where they are gently pressed overnight. Basket pressing overnight is vital to ensure we don’t over-extract the tannin in the skins and seeds. Grapes grown in Vine Vale have very delicate flavours so it is important that we don’t smother the varietal character with dry, bitter or furry tannins. Basket pressing gives softness to our wines.

barrel store
When the initial ferment is complete, we rack the wines into barrel for storage and secondary fermentation.

We allow this to happen naturally which can take around 6 months. A slow secondary fermentation means our wines spend a long time in contact with the lees which adds a silky feel to the palate.

We use mainly used French oak barriques, with some newer oak in our big reds. The barrels are assembled in pyramid stacks, an age old art form of stacking barrels for maturing wine in the cellar. The barrels can’t be moved around so the wine remains perfectly still until it is blended for bottling. Pyramid stacks allow us to bottle without fining or filtering, which means all the flavours we go to great lengths to preserve are not stripped away at the last post.

Recycling By-products
After de-stemming, the stalks are fed to our sheep, which are later used for meat which is thoroughly enjoyed at our staff BBQ’s throughout the year.

After pressing, our skins are stockpiled, mixed with fowl manure and spread over the vineyard as a mulch/fertilizer.

After bottling in winter, our barrels are opened, shaved and stored in a hot shed over summer before re-assembly and re-filling with the next vintage. We use our barrels until they are about 12 years of age, after which we cut them up, and cook with them in our wood oven in the Den.

All of our waste water from the winery is used to irrigate our orchard which supplies a year round fruit supply to friends, family and workers.