In 1996 David & Lyndall came up with the crazy idea of building a house out of railway carriages. Lacking any prior building experience made the idea even more crazy! After discovering four disused carriages at Corowa we proceeded with the arduous task of having them transported to Echuca. When work began I know lots of people (including myself) wondered what we were doing. Dating back to the 1890’s I soon discovered that the carriages consisted of timber such as cedar, kauri pine, silky oak and blackwood. Yes this was exciting news but not nearly as exciting as the prospect of sanding off many layers of paint covering the ceiling and walls. After knocking out walls, building extensions, plumbing, fitting out and countless other jobs the carriages are now our home.
The initial 10 acre planting took place in 1996 by the Johnson family. This consisted of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The following year a further 5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon was put under vine. These 2 varieties were selected as we believed they would be best suited to our local conditions. The decision was also based on the forecasting (guessing) that these 2 varieties would be in favour in 5 years time. When deciding on Merlot I wondered why few growers were selecting this variety. I now know why! It is very difficult to grow, extremely temperamental and low yielding. Low yielding was not considered a problem as our modest aim is to yield only 2-3 tonne per acre from the vineyard. Being warm climate we could yield more, however we are aiming for high quality fruit and believe this can best be achieved through yield constraints. This is achieved through cultural practices such as limiting fertilizer application, heavy pruning and controlled watering. During ripening we are particularly careful with water, as we aim to keep berry size to a minimum. Most of the flavour in a grape is found directly under the skin, therefore small berries equal big flavour.
THE WINEMAKING PROCESS
The winemaking process involves a careful blend of technology and tradition, employing state of the art equipment, yet largely influenced by a winemaking philosophy that is quite traditional. This philosophy assumes that the winemaking process to a large extent takes place in the vineyard before the grapes are harvested. In the winery an attitude of minimal intervention is adopted. For example this wine may deposit a small amount of sediment called potassium bitartrate, otherwise known in the industry as wine diamonds. This deposit is odorless, tasteless and harmless and does not effect the wines quality (being heavier than wine, careful pouring or decanting should ensure that it stays in the bottle!) Fining the wine would remove tartrates, however this fining process also removes desirable qualities such as colour and flavour. Such a philosophy removes us somewhat from the squeaky clean big company wines. We prefer to provide our customers with a wine which is a direct refle