Two hundred rows, 31000 vines, 223 kilometres of trellis wire…
They’re just a few of the big numbers we’ve had to get our heads around during the past six months as we’ve planned major expansions to our 18.5ha vineyard overlooking the river.
Ground works for the three new blocks of pinot noir began not long after vintage 2010. They saw the laying of more than 750 metres of 15” PVC-U pressure pipe to support a state of the art drip irrigation system.
Covering around 7ha, our new plantings will contain all of the clones we know work best on our site. We’ll also be trialling some recent introductions to the Tasmanian wine industry – clones 667, 538 and Abel – in order to assess their performance under local growing conditions.
The latter clone is also called the Ata Rangi clone, and takes its name from Kiwi customs officer, Malcolm Abel, who had the good fortune of confiscating an illegally imported vine cutting from Burgundy’s legendary Romanée de la Conti during the late 1970s.
The ever vigilant Abel just happened to be a small ‘hobby winemaker’ on New Zealand’s North Island. Instead of disposing of the rogue ‘gumboot vine’ he seized, Abel had the presence of mind to have it quarantined and eventually accepted into the industry’s accredited stock of planting material.
When its first cuttings were released from captivity, Abel planted some of them in his own vineyard at Kumeu. He also supplied cuttings – said to have originated from La Tache in the Côtes de Nuits – to his friend Clive Paton, then setting up Ata Rangi Vineyard.
Sadly, Abel the man did not live beyond 1981. The vine that bears his name still lives on, however, and has grown beyond an inaugural vintage at Ata Rangi in 1985 to become one of New Zealand’s best performing and most widely planted pinot noir clones.
With a little help from Mother Nature, we expect to harvest a small amount of Abel clone during vintage 2013. Its ultimate wine quality should provide some fascinating discoveries.