We purchased a 20 acre block of land in Patons Road, Axe Creek in July 1997. We were attracted to the site by the contours of the land, the soil structure, and the proximity to Bendigo. The soil type is sandy loam of approximately 100mm over red and yellow clay.
In negotiations with the previous owner, we discovered that our site was once part of a larger property with a very rich grape growing and wine making history (see below). This showed that our initial attraction to the site was well founded.
We planted a trial row of 100 shiraz cuttings on the block in 1998, and monitored their progress. It seemed that the site was capable of producing wines in the style that we wanted – low yielding vines with low vigour and concentrated flavours. This is typical of the red wines from the Bendigo region, and exactly what we were looking for.
We planted 2 acres of shiraz rootlings in October 1999, and carefully nurtured them onto the cordon and fruiting wires. Rather than “rush” our vines to production, we have allowed them to develop a sound trunk and arm structure before allowing them to produce fruit. Our first small crop of shiraz grapes (one and one-half tonne) was harvested in late March 2002.
In a good season, we anticipate between 3 and 4 tonne of fruit from our existing 2 acres under vine. This is considerably less than some other regions, but it fits our overall aim of producing highly concentrated and full-bodied wines.
We would like to expand our operations to include some additional grape varieties. Future plantings, though, will depend on water availability – we rely solely on catchment dams for our irrigation needs.