In 2003 we established our vineyard exercising organic practises for pest and disease, from 2008 we have increasingly been actively involved in biodynamic conversion. Under vine is mulched using straw, with strawberry clover allowed to establish a hold on the inner row area.
Being blessed by the maritime/cool climate and the moderating effects of the sea breeze, early ripening varieties were chosen.
The reason to go with grafted vines was determined by the richness of the soil. To enable the control of excess vine vigor we planted drought resistant rootstock and the whole vineyard is completely dry grown. Together with the prevailing winds this all helps to balance vine growth.
The 2,900 vines planted are trellised using VSP with a cordon wire at 850mm of height with due north & south orientation.
The vines are cane pruned, and shoot thinned in the Spring, bunch thinning also occurs at variation to reduce yield to a maximum of 1 to 1.5 tonne and acre.
All fruit is meticulously hand picked at optimum ripeness.
An ancient nearby volcano has carved this unique site into one of Victoria's more robust horticulture areas. The earth is composed of black volcanic top soil, flecked with small pieces of basalt (bluestone), under which is a layer approximately 6 inches thick of very porous tufa, which was formed as ash deposits from the near by volcano. This is then layered over decomposed limestone and into yellow sand.
This unique land has been the production hub of potatoes and onions for decades, tilled and turned by Irish settlers, who found Killarney resembled the countryside they left behind in the 1800's.
The vineyard is located on a slight North face of an open plain, midway between the ancient inland sand dunes formed thousands of years ago, and the roaring Southern Ocean. The site has been complemented by the re-establishment of native shelter belts, to not only provide refuge to the native fauna, but also provide some relief from the ever present southern blast off the ocean.
Biodynamic farming was fathered by Rudolph Steiner, in Austria in the 1920s. Reacting to a widespread loss of farm vigour and production, Steiner gave a series of lectures outlining Biodynamic farming.
In a modern interpretation, Biodynamic farming seeks to replace conventional methods with natural alternatives. In some cases, this is as simple as replacing chemical controls with manual labour. However, Biodynamics go far further than this, treating the farm as a huge interconnected web of organisms - with the knowledge that a healthy, balanced, biodiverse farm will sustainably produce wonderful crops.
We use composting and mulching to control weeds and improve soil structure - recycling all of our farm and winery waste into compost to return nutrients, minerals and organic matter to the soil. We use the Biodynamic Preparations to stimulate soil and vine health, as well as control fungi on the vines themselves. This includes the well-known '500' - made up from composted cow manure: which acts as a pro-fungi culture for the soil, encouraging positive fungi growth and symbiotic relationships to help the vines grow. This holistic, closed-loop farming practice means our vineyard is very sustainable - with few inputs and fewer outputs.
Additionally, we regularly use milk sprays. Milk contains a protein that stimulates a positive fungi on the vine leaves - preventing the growth of unwanted fungi like Downy Mildew.
The elimination of poisons from our vineyard means that our fruit comes into the winery healthy and vibrant.
In the winery, we seek to translate the balance and vibrance of the fruit to the wines - using minimal intervention winemaking techniques to ensure that the wine reflects the geology, climate and location of our vineyard, in a true preservation of terroir.