Traditional Owners: Djab Wurrung and Jardwadjali
Varieties: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier
Situated in the hills southeast of Great Western at Armstrong, on an east facing, undulating slope of red/brown sandy clay loam, with buckshot and some quartz, known as the ‘Concongella’ soil series. Planted in 1969 by the Dalkin family, and then extended in 1998. From 2011 the Morris family have taken custodianship of this great site. The vineyard is mainly the rare St. Ethel clone of Shiraz, but with a small trial clonal block on various rootstocks. In 2008 a small block of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier was added, on the lightest, poorest soils in the vineyard.
The vineyard is usually one of the later, cooler ripening sites we harvest, with a harvest date in the first week of April. The older Shiraz vines in particular display effortless depth and fine, building tannins, the wines ageing superbly, retaining admirable acidity. Grapes from the 1969 plantings often rise to the quality mark needed for a single, Westgate Vineyard bottling, and have done so in the best years since 2006, now under the R. Lane Vintners series. The Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier vines go to make our white blend, which has been gaining complexity and carving a stylistic groove since 2010. It is still the only plantings of Marsanne and Roussanne in the region to our knowledge. Westgate is a special site for us, and one of the most important sites in the district.
Located southwest of Great Western and north of Moyston, in the granite dotted hills, is Hyde Park Vineyard, a large, warm, vineyard set on a large siltstone hill, which looks like shale or slate, and erupts out of the red ferrous earth. We take grapes from the top of the hill, where the red earth is higher in clay and stone and retains more moisture, and largely avoids the need for irrigation in all but the hottest periods. Down the slope the soil becomes lighter and more sandy as it approaches an old creek. The earliest of our Shiraz to ripen now, it produces juicy, tangy, jubey red berry flavours and nice high tones.
From 2013 it will form the bulk of our Grampians blend. A parcel of 100% whole bunch fermented Shiraz from this block adds spice and lift to the blend. Expertly managed by Robin Kuchel.
Moyston Hills Organic Vineyard
Planted in 1999 at 300mASL by Bruce and Kaye Robinson, it is our most southerly site and one I previously worked with as far back as 2004 and 2005 until larger players in the region contracted the whole site. Originally planted to Syrah only it now has small holdings of Mourvèdre and Grenache, which are important parts of our Super G wine, as well as a promising new block of Barbera. As of 2020 we have been involved again with this vineyard and from mid-2021 have taken over the farming of this great site ourselves. Our focus will be on elevating this site to one of the jewels of the region and will be making a separate, single vineyard wine from it (quality permitting). Its combination of cool, southerly latitude, now mature vines and red, Ordovician soils make for good water holding, balanced canopies and elegant, highly aromatic wines. We expect exciting things to come.
The Arawatta vineyard was planted in the late 1990s by local Paul Dakis and we convinced him to plant some Grenache vines on the warmest, lowest section of his vineyard, where the soils are lightest. Planted in 2014 at 280mASL. The 2 hectares of Grenache is from the South Australian Heritage clone program, and while the vineyard is still very young, there is already impressive wine being made from it, with rose petal and Turkish delight aromas and the ability to achieve good flavour ripeness at modest alcohol levels late in the season. I see Grenache as an important variety for the future of the Grampians region as climate change pushes ripeness earlier and warmer sites like this one are able to harness this trend and use it to achieve wines previously un-thought of.
Rory at Westgate Vineyard with grower Tim Morris.
Traditional Owners: Gunditjmara
Varieties: Pinot Noir
Rowan's Lane Vineyard
A very small block isolated from others, this time planted on the banks of the Merri River outside Warrnambool, the most easterly part of the Henty region. It was planted in 1998 by the Rafferty family, to MV6 and 115 clones of Pinot Noir, P58 Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, a little Riesling and some Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is influenced by two major features. Firstly, the sea, which is within 2km, and the retreat of which revealed the sands and shells that compose the subsoils of the vineyard. Secondly, the Tower Hill volcano a few kilometres west, which dusted the area with black, friable, ashen topsoils. Even, cool ripening conditions and modest crops make for earthy, powerful Pinots, and as of 2012 we have made some lovely single-vineyard wine from the site.
Traditional Owners: Girai Wurrung
Varieties: Pinot Noir
Newton's Ridge Vineyard
Another isolated block, this time 15 minutes inland from Port Campbell, the home of the famous 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road. The vineyard was planted by the Newtons in 1998 to 10 acres of Pinot Noir MV6 clone, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier and a little Shiraz. Soils are brown clay loams over limestone, and rainfall is high, eliminating the need for irrigation. This is a very cold site, northeast facing and needs intense management to ripen adequately, so leaf removal and crop-thinning are necessary, but it is beginning to produce impressive Pinot Noir fruit with delicacy and perfume, and a caclaire quality not often seen in Aussie Pinot. The difficult nature of the site has seen it reduced to a more manageable size in recent years, which has unfortunately reduced our volumes, and it is now a wine-club only release. Rare indeed!
Traditional Owners: Taungurung
Varieties: Riesling and Pinot Noir
The Croucher Vineyard was made known to me when I began putting out feelers for a new Riesling source after the unfortunate vine-pull and retirement of the Barrett’s at Portland in the Henty region. I am convinced that the best Riesling comes from the coldest vineyards, and so if I couldn’t have latitude, I wanted altitude. I was told about an old Brown Brother’s contract site next door to their Whitlands vineyard that had some pretty smart Riesling, so went to investigate. The Croucher Vineyard is set at close spacing on red volcanic soils, up at around 800m above sea level, and was planted in the mid-1980s. It seemed to have the right credentials. Beginning in 2015, the Riesling is very delicate, limey and floral, and retains great acidity. The Croucher family tend it with an expert hand. We love the intensity and drive of the natural acidity of this site, even in the warmest years, and its long, cool ripening allows for a full spectrum of fruit flavours without sacrificing line and delicacy
Traditional Owners: Taungurung
Box Grove Vineyard
Planted in 1995 at 100mASL and expertly managed by Sarah Gough, we will have more information to share about this vineyard soon.