We've finally got our mini winery up and running (ok it's a posh shed) and just in time for us to make our 2021 Shiraz on-site. The grapes were sourced from Michel Chapoutier in the cool climate region of the Pyrenees. This biodynamic and organic site showcases some incredible fruit from the foothills of Australia's Great Dividing range.
Due to the cool temperatures in the months of April and May, we experienced a prolonged fermentation period. The temperature of the vats slowly rising with the aid of indoor heaters over a 6 week period, this slow rise will really help capture all the beautiful nuances and complexity in the final wine.
Unlike some of the more modern and fancy pants machinery out there, we use a basket press and old school muscle to press the grapes. Leaving behind the pomace or what we call the cake. After doing this several times and being careful not to over extract the skins, (over extraction can lead to bitterness) we pump the remaining juice straight into barrel. Now locked away in French oak barrels (50% new) this cool climate Shiraz has found it's home for the next 12 - 18 months. We'll update you soon on our next steps but for now we're looking forward to seeing our Shiraz develop in barrel.
If you don't want to wait 18 months for a drink (totally understandable) try our Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2019
Along with our Northern Hope Pinot Noir, this year we're pretty pumped to be making a cool climate Shiraz thanks to our friends at Michel Chapoutier in the Pyrenees. Our site in the Macedon Ranges is a little too cold to ripen this variety so we've looked further a field to find this magical cool climate site.
The Pyrenees foothills and ranges create a remarkable diversity of microclimates and soils providing a wealth of options for winemakers like ourselves. The cool weather patterns and unique soil in this region are an ideal place for Chapoutier’s biodynamic winegrowing philosophy, and something we're very excited to experiment.
We decided to pick the fruit around the 12.5% Baume mark as we want to achieve a style of Shiraz that's a little lighter and racier than most. Avoiding some of the more jammy and higher alcohol characteristics that Shiraz can be known for.
Selecting parcels from the coolest part of the Chapoutier site, we set about loading up our vats on a day which turned out to be stinking hot. Thankfully the picking crew were on hand to help us pick our 2 tonnes of grapes - they were incredible!
It's going to take some time before we get to release this little bad boy but we look forward to sharing our progress and the the forthcoming wine making stages. Previously all our wines have been made with the help of our friends at the Lyons Will Estate.... this time we're on our own making it at our very teeny tiny winery / shed @Northern Hope..... (add dramatic music here haha). This is going to be epic!!!
Oh and speaking of epic.... our Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2019 is now available, check it out here>
We're proud to say that we've just bottled our first ever wine!!! (Crowd goes wild)
Our Pinot Noir is in bottle, it's resting, ready for our big release and we couldn't be more excited about sharing it with you.
Sourcing pinot noir grapes from the Macedon Ranges is difficult due to the high demand for fruit but we were fortunate enough to come across two growers that were happy to work with us in bringing this dream to life. The grapes are from a well established, award winning vineyard in Woodend, Macedon Ranges. Grown on rich red volcanic soil and geologically classified as a tertiary volcanic vent site associated with the Hanging Rock volcanic core.
So what did we do?
These wonderful grapes were hand picked from the site, collecting just short of 2 and half tonnes. We specifically chose to work with MV6 clones due to it's robust flavours and tannins that can be extracted. We then destemmed them and left 8% whole-bunch to bring that additional layer of structure to the wine. It didn't take long for the fermentation to kick off, using only the natural wild yeast, it was later transferred to French Oak barrels for 12 months, 25% of which was new oak.
Bottling day arrives and we finally see all our hard work come to fruition as we see our first bottles come off the production line.
We're hoping to share this limited number of first release pinot noir in Dec 2020... just in time for Christmas. So come back soon to secure this special opportunity, you won't want to miss this!
Our Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir 2019 has now been released and can be purchased here >
Winter's here and one of our biggest jobs in the vineyard is pruning. Our Pinot Noir vines are only 2 years old but they've taken well to the Macedon Ranges cool climate with real vigor. Pruning is not one of the most exciting jobs to work on in the vineyard but it is one of the most important. Get it right and you set yourself up for success for the upcoming year... get it wrong and you can have a real disaster on your hands.
So what is pruning? One of the main jobs of pruning is to tell the vine how many bunches of grapes you want it to produce and to ripen in the year, it also determines the crop for the next year. Cutting back last years canes help the vine grow healthier and more rigorously in the spring.
Pictured above: Samantha has opened one of the plastic grow guards to reveal the vine and the 2 main canes. The weakest of the two canes will be snipped off near the base and the remaining cane will be snipped higher up, 1 inch under the cordon wire.
It's then important to remove all the other buds on the cane leaving just two at the top. These buds will create the two new canes for this year's growth. After that's all done, zip up the grow guard and start the next vine, repeat this 1000's of times until you've done so many squats you've got buns of steel.
Exciting times as we get ready to release our first ever wine... The Northern Hope 2019 Pinot Noir is finally ready to be bottled.
As our vineyard is not producing grapes yet, we purchased grapes from an award winning vineyard in Woodend, Macedon Ranges. This small batch, single vineyard of Pinot Noir (2 1/2 tonnes total) was hand picked and basket pressed. Comprising of a single clone (MV6) and a wild yeast ferment it was matured in a combination of new and old French oak barrels.
Bottling will take place on the 22nd August 2020 and will be ready to be purchased from this November. Only a total of 1450 bottles will be produced so please make sure you sign up to our email newsletters to stay in the know and more importantly come back soon so you can get your hands on this very limited edition release.
Planting day: 5th December 2018
We planted our very first block of vines at Northern Hope. We ordered over 1500 pinot noir vines from Yalumba Nursery in Tasmania, purchasing a mixture of 115 and MV6 clones to provide a layered and more complex tasting pinot. It wasn't a difficult decision to plant pinot noir given it's our favourite go to wine and it's something which we believe is suited to the cool climate of the Macedon Ranges.
Like most great ideas it seemed simple but when given more thought on how'd we plant 1500+ vines in one day and on our own, we knew we'd need some help. So quickly selling the dream to our friends... 'Hey why don't you come and help us plant vines it will be fun...' (sweetened with the promise of free booze and a BBQ) we were able to enlist a wonderful crack team of helpers.
So Saturday rolled around and it was a scorching 30 degrees, the planting crew (consisting 90% English) endured the elements with an unwavering sense of determination (for a free beer).
The crew was split into diggers and planters, the diggers making holes every 1 metre along the row directly under the dripping irrigation pipe. The planters working along the row and carefully handling each 1 year old old vine and burying it in the dirt and compacting the soil, it was a beautiful system. Dig, plant, repeat .... A LOT!
We had chosen to buy 1 year old vines which were already grafted onto American rootstock to safeguard ourselves from diseases such as phylloxera. Although it's not common in the Macedon Ranges this little insect can be carried from vineyard to vineyard and will ultimately kill all your plants. Having our vines grafted onto American rootstock protects them from these nasty little critters.
The vineyard was purposefully designed to be close planting, by having our vines one metre apart meant that the vines have to compete with each other for water and nutrients. This will help push the roots further into the soil and help us to really express our terroir.
Nearing to the end of an exhausting day, we finished our very first block of vines. None of which would have been possible without the help of all our incredible friends and family to get us across the line. Who wants to help with the second block? Any takers?