In the Vineyard
In the Vineyard
The production of complex, intriguing and ultimately delicious wine is not simply the responsibility of the winemaker. The vineyards themselves are of ultimate importance. Great wines begin in the vineyard – from the soil and how it affects the vine’s ability to grow and develop to receiving the right amount of sun in order to ripen. Different regional conditions suit different varietals – but the Clare Valley is quite unique in its ability to produce delicate, aromatic Riesling, alongside rich, full-bodied Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Warm days and cool nights
Our vineyard rests in the sub-region of Auburn, stretching through to the Watervale border. And with a vantage point some 350 metres above sea level, the area enjoys a ‘Mediterranean’ climate. This is characterised by a large diurnal temperature range with warm days, where the vines can bask in the sunlight; and cold nights, which allow them to rest and recuperate – essential for retaining their intensity of flavour.
Fruit of the earth
Our winemaking philosophy draws strongly on the idea of terroir – that the soil, climate and landscape all contribute to the distinctness of our wines. Our aim is to nurture the greatest potential from each and every grape growing in our vineyards – from the Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the famous ‘terra rossa’ soils of our St Andrews blocks, to the Riesling planted on the rolling contours of the banks leading down to the Wakefield River.
For a snapshot of where each variety lives, Colin Hinze, viticulturist takes us on a quick tour: “Terroir based site selection is hugely important here in the Clare Valley, where we’re fortunate enough to be able to work with diverse and interesting micro-climates. The site for our delicate St Andrews Riesling is east-facing and importantly – well sheltered, whereas the Shiraz vines are more gently west-facing; the Chardonnay which produces our finest results is from denuded red-brown soils at the top of an otherwise fairly fertile slope, and finally our famous Cabernet block basks in the sheltered warmth of the river flat but yields very shy bunches of tiny berries – only the finest of which end up in the flagship St Andrews Cabernet.”
A year in the vineyard
Each new season in the Clare Valley brings about a wondrous change in vistas – from the burst of flower buds on the vines in spring, the leaves turning golden red in autumn, to the crystalline early-morning sheen of the hills in wintertime.
At Wakefield, every time of year brings something new. Take a look at what goes on at the vineyard as the different seasons unfold...
This time of the year is known as ‘Budburst’. It’s when our vines wake from winter dormancy to begin a new growing season. The months from September to December call for a watchful eye in the vineyard, as the risk of disease is at its highest.
Over these months the vines flower, producing a beautiful smell across the vineyard and then produce tiny bunches. By late October to early November, the fruit sets.
At this stage, our developing grapes look like small green peas. It's difficult to imagine that these hard green berries will be turned into wine come the new year.
This period of time is known as ‘veraison’ – where the ripening berries become soft and fleshy, and begin to turn their purple, red and golden colours.
February – May
Harvest, or vintage, starts in February and continues to around May – however, this can change dramatically depending on the weather conditions.
June – September
With the grapes harvested and the weather turning cold again, the vines will slowly return to their dormant state. To make sure they’re in top shape for the next vintage, we have a team of over 70 people hand-pruning them – until the cycle starts all over again.