We love to notice and mark the changing of seasons, the sighting of a new birds' nest, or our unceasing wonder at the seamless enrichment that biodynamic viticulture provides our pristine environment. Working in rhythm with nature ensures we're vigilant in the vineyard, and follow that attention to detail through to the winery and the table. As fifth and sixth generation winegrowers, we value family, tradition and progression, and we hope our stories strike a chord with you – hopefully so much that we're lucky enough to one day hear yours.
Steve and Monique Lubiana.
Recently I came across an interesting book that Steve purchased online called ‘Organic growing with worms’ by David Murphy. It was sitting on the coffee table and I had a few minutes between the dishwasher finishing and hanging out a load of washing. (This is what I do on my days off as a part time domestic goddess!!)
One of the few challenges we’ve found in our vineyard is the imbalance of nitrogen. Why do grapes need nitrogen? Grapes with balanced ‘goldilocks’ nitrogen produce higher quality, flavoursome and stable wines that age well. Too much nitrogen is not a good thing as vines push to create canopy rather than fruit shading out bunches. This can produce unripe fruit characters with poor age-ability. One of the reasons Grand Cru wines are planted on hillsides rather than the valley floor is because hillsides have soils of less vigour and are generally warmer (less clay), and also can be of a higher PH. When we purchased our Granton vineyard over 30 years ago it was planted to a market garden producing mostly brassicas best suited to an alkaline soil type. The previous owner ran the market garden conventionally and, as a result, we inherited soils like concrete, which is a habitat uninviting to worms. Over the past 30 years we’ve set about reversing the harm done through the introduction of compost, compost teas, 500, 501, gentle cultivation and cover crops. We monitor our progress through soil testing. We’ve come a long way and we’ve increased the carbon content immensely but there is still some more work to be done. Worms can help us as they work around the clock with no overtime converting the carbon to nitrogen.
If you’re mad about gardening and want to do something to help the environment, especially if you’re keen to grow food, this is an essential book. What I learned was that worms deposit nitrogen in the soil through their burrowing and urine (wee). When worms burrow they shore up the walls of the burrows with their mucus. This is full of nitrogen that is excreted through the digestion of carbon, minerals and bacteria. Their wee is also full of nitrogen. When it rains, or irrigation is applied, this washes all the nitrogen through the burrows to the tip of the root system that is then taken up by the vine. Not only do the worms deposit nitrogen but their burrowing allows for oxygen to enter the soil. Along with carbon this is a key requirement for bacteria to flourish. ‘bacteria is agriculture’s richest source of nitrogen on the planet’ p112. Oxygen in soil feels squidgy underfoot, not like concrete. ‘Organic growing with worms’ explains how to start a worm farm, attract worms, keep them and increase their numbers. It’s an easy read full of great ideas. I give it 5 stars out of 5.
(Marco, Steve and Mario Lubiana 2008)
We are currently Tasmania’s only certified Biodynamic vineyard. With two vineyards located in Southern Tasmania - one in Derwent Valley and the other located in the Huon Valley. We have a focus on producing only premium quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and, of course, Sparkling wines. Over half of our vineyards are planted in the two great Burundian varietals.
Steve Lubiana, a fifth generation Italian heritage winemaker, hails from Moorook in South Australia. His father, Mario, a post war immigrant from Istria, established Lubiana Wines in the Riverland, South Australia, in 1953. It was always expected Steve would take over his father’s business when the time came, but as some young winemakers do, Steve travelled to Champagne for the 1985 vintage. During this time Steve developed his passion for premium quality sparkling wine.
This led Steve and his new wife, Monique, to Tasmania in 1988 on their honeymoon for a scouting trip. A couple of years after this visit they purchased the original 252-hectare parcel of land at Granton. The Granton vineyard was first planted to 2ha of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir during the spring of 1991. Over the years it has expanded to over 18.5 ha of bearing vines, and now includes Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Shiraz and Malbec among others. An additional 7ha of Pinot Noir was added during the spring 2010. In spring 2019 a further 1.4ha of close-planted Pinot Noir was established.
After achieving Biodynamic certification in 2013 at the Granton Vineyard, Steve and Monique Lubiana purchased the former Panorama Vineyard at Cradoc, Huon Valley in 2015. This added additional10 hectares of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Huon Valley vineyard is in conversion and will be certified Biodynamic from 2021.
Much to the delight of Steve and Monique their son, Marco Lubiana, has followed in the family tradition by becoming the 6th generation winemaker. After graduating from Adelaide University in 2018, Marco joined the family business along with launching his own label “Marco Lubiana” marcolubiana.com.au.
In 2020 our gravity fed winery located onsite at our Granton Vineyard in the Derwent Valley has the capacity to process up to 300 tonnes of fruit. We produce 10 000 to 13 000 cases of wine annually. While Vintage 2020 has been dominated by a global crisis, we still have managed to produce high quality biodynamic wines. Currently our Vintage team is made up of Assistant Winemaker, Lauren, along with Batiste from France and Leo from Germany, plus the Tasmanian locals of Justin ......and of course Marco, Monique and Steve Lubiana. We look forward to releasing our first wine from vintage 2020 later this year.
Steve was introduced to Gerhard Pittnauer of Pittnauer Wines through their mutual friend and agent Patrick Walsh. Pittnauer Wines is based in the cool climate Austrian region of Burgenland along the eastern border with Hungary.
Steve had tasted the biodynamic Pittnauer Wines, and he found them to be bright, generous and authentic with a clear sense of place. Soon after, while Gerhard was visiting Australia for a wine exhibition they were introduced. Steve was in the process of certifying our Granton Estate to biodynamics and they found they had an immediate connection and shared similar environmental philosophies.
Steve was impressed by Pittnauer’s approach to organics, natural and unrestricted overall feel of their winemaking philosophy. Wine can be made using a scientific approach, made with numbers and equations to a formula. Whereas artistic wine styles are usually made by impression, touch and intuition, i.e. understanding the seasonal effects and leading with those rather than trying to insert a square peg into a round hole.
Not long after their initial meeting Steve travelled to Austria and undertook a sabbatical at the Pittnauer Estate. Here he witnessed a confident winemaker flowing with the vintage. Steve, a fifth generation winemaker, who trained at Roseworthy Agricultural College was looking to pare back a little of his mostly technical and academic approach to include a more empathetic methodology. He found that assurance through his experience at Pittnauer.
During Steve’s visit to Austria he also had the opportunity to taste the grape varieties in their environment and assess their suitability to our vineyard at Granton in the Derwent Valley. Steve decided that the two most suited Austrian varieties for our Granton Estate were Blaufränckisch and Grüner Veltliner and so planted a small plot of each. Many of you would have already tasted our Grüner Veltliner, that edges closely to a Pinot Gris and Riesling in style. Our Buon Gusto Club has already had the first taste of our Blaufränkisch and now we are excited to share this new release with you all.
Good friend and wine writer, Jane Faulkner, published an article on Steve Lubiana and Gerhard Pittnauer's relationship and complimentry wine making styles, which with her permission we have included below.
Biodiversity on Every Level
Through his understanding of how important biodiversity is in agriculture, Steve became aware of the significance of bees and he came to admire them. Steve built his own hives using a similar template to the ‘Warre’ hive. Steve’s thinking is to keep the hive construction as close to nature as possible so that the bees are free to truly express themselves.
Steve has stocked his hives through rescuing swarms. He developed a relationship with a local pest controller who would call him when a household required a swarm removed. Steve would arrive at the address with an empty wine box and some smoke, collect the bees and rehome them in one of his hives. Some of you may have enjoyed the sweet honey collected off our property whilst visiting our winery.
Vines are self-pollinators. Therefore bees are not essential to growing grapes. However we still need them to pollinate our cover crops and the surrounding native bush. Flowers that produce pollen and nectar attract beneficial predator wasps that help keep light brown apple moth at bay. Too many larvae from these little creatures produce less quality grapes, by damaging the stalks and creating nests between berries that invites disease such as botrytis.
Bees also pollinate the surrounding bush of which we have at least 100 ha. This bush-belt is home to many introduced and native birds amongst other native animals that use our vineyard as their Larder keeping insects in balance and bringing the life force with them.
We can recommend the ‘Honeybee Democracy’ by Thomas D. Seeley for further reading about Bees; this book is a true gift to humanity here is a tiny extract.
“….. He discovered that when a bee performs a waggle run inside a dark hive, she produces a miniaturized re-enactment of her recent flight outside the hive over sunlit countryside, and in this way indicates the location of the rich food source she has just visited….”
Recently we have noticed hype and market visibility of ‘natural wine’ mainly through social media. Any one would think it’s a new trend. While the term ‘natural’ may be a relatively new description, the wine making process is distinctly older. Natural, like ‘raw’, ‘naked’ or ‘minimal intervention’ are terms used to describe fermented grape juices, generally free of all preservatives and synthetics both in the vineyard and in the winery but not always unfortunately.
We produce two unique natural wine styles. The first is our Pinot Noir dominate Terramadre and the second is our Amphora ‘Amber’ in colour wine. These wine styles are not widely ‘covered’ by winemakers because they are time consuming to make and require more of a conscientious effort by the winemaker especially when it comes to hygiene to prevent winemaking faults. There is a lot of chat about natural wine but in general they are not widely distributed in the Australian mainstream marketplace.
The winemaking method for our Terramadre starts with hand picking of the certified biodynamic grapes. We destem the fruit (remove the stalk) and ferment the grapes in a small vat that can hold up to 4 tonnes. The grapes ferment naturally with their own yeast (found on their skins), which is indigenous to our vineyard. The wine is foot stomped daily as this is a much gentler way of extracting flavour without unpacking too much skin phenolics. The wine is deep crimson in colour with plenty of flavours of red fruits with structure built from vibrant tannins & fruit acid. This wine is a blend of 62% Pinot Noir, 30% Syrah/Shiraz and 8% Malbec. Terramadre has no added sulphur; we use inert gas to prevent oxidation, whereas all our other wines have a low addition usually no more than 40% of the allowable amount. This wine is truly natural and consists of only fermented grapes.
Our skin contact Amber wine is currently a blend of 84% Chardonnay and 16% Sauvignon Blanc. It is hand picked before being de-stemmed into the Amphora for co-fermentation. The Amphora we use is a ceramic egg shaped vessel. Biodynamic philosophy says the egg shape is one of life-force and these types of vessels were often used by ancient civilisations to store liquids and grains, these vessels are not new technology but equipment that has stood the test of time. We use our Amphora to make a skin contact white wine, imparting more tannin than wine that is pressed off skins before fermentation. The vessel also allows for a larger surface area of wine to come into contact with the lees, imparting more complexity and preservation properties as well as life force through its shape. The Amphora wine spends 20 days prior to pressing in the ceramic egg, the end result being beautiful deep amber coloured, flavoursome textured wine. We have been making Amphora wine since 2013 and this style is a great match with cheese.
As a ‘grower’ winemaker we firmly believe that to produce a high quality wine our vineyards must be in optimal health, free of all synthetics and diseases. Premium grapes permit Steve to focus on the basics, ensuring the quality of the fruit is not diminished or compromised during the winemaking process.
Despite the extraordinary world wide situation, Vintage 2020 will go down as a harmonious, enjoyable and insightful harvest, where everyone conscientiously pulled together and got the job done.
All the hard work throughout the growing season was done predominantly by the vineyard staff led by Jarod, our Vineyard Manager, with assistance from Jamie & Joshua. As per previous years Steve, Monique & Jorja (our Permaculturist) hopped in the tractors when the support of a second shift was required. This joint effort paid off with correct tonnes per hectare harvested with no bird damage and no disease detected.
The 2020 winery crew roll call included Steve Lubiana, Chief winemaker, assisted by Lauren Hodgeman & Marco Lubiana. Both Lauren and Marco are qualified winemakers, this being Lauren’s first and Marco’s third vintage with us at Stefano Lubiana Wines. Interns were Leo Messe from Germany, Baptiste Delmas from France and Tasmanian local Justin Folloso. Monique Lubiana, the glue of the operation, was a crucial member of the team keeping the wheels turning and everything running smoothly… while doing the goffering when required.
All in all, an excellent year for sparkling wines with lots of brilliant natural acid present. Usually we start processing the sparkling fruit at the end of February/early March and 2020 was no different with our first press load of sparkling fruit arriving on the 4th of March 2020. The low tonnes per hectare fruit that makes our Sasso & Single block Pinot Noirs arrived next followed by the rest of our ultra premium table wines including Chardonnay. The Merlot, Blaufrankish, Shiraz, Anise, Malvasia, Barbara, Dolcetto, Graciano Nebiollo and Sangiovese all very small volumes (for example 2 buckets of Sangiovese) were the last grapes picked on Thursday the 16th of April 2020. These varieties are sometimes made into ‘groovy’ alternative styles or stand alone small batch wines for our Buon Gusto Club.
Our predominant variety is Pinot Noir and have been growing and making it in Tasmania for 27 vintages. Stefano Lubiana was established in 1990 part of the entrepreneurial wave of winemakers who helped take Tasmania from a ‘cottage industry' to a world-class formidable force in Australian Wine. Our success is recognised in the many local, national & international accolades, securing our place in this country’s who's who of winemakers.
As we continue to celebrate our milestone of 30 years in Tasmania we are offering a one off Pinot Noir ‘extravaganza’ so that you can celebrate our anniversary with us in your own home or office, during Covid-19. We know and trust that you will enjoy this special occasion with us and we look forward to enjoying our next exciting milestone with you in the future.
Our Pinot Noir Extravaganza is a collection of a 6 pack of Pinot Noirs for $417 plus a complimentary limited release Pinot Noir Magnum (valued at $160.00) *please note no further discounts offered on this fantastic collection
At the heart of everything we do here at Stefano Lubiana Wines is the pursuit of excellence. To us that includes ensuring our vineyard and environment is in optimal health, producing chemical/synthetic free grapes.
Steve and Monique moved from the mainland in 1990 with the vision to not only produce exceptional wines but to also, make wines with a minimal environmental footprint. With that in mind they started their journey into Biodynamics. Biodynamic Agriculture, a philosophy documented by Rudolph Steiner in 1924, can be considered one of the earliest forms of organic farming. Like Organic farming it excludes the use of any synthetics and chemicals and champions the use composts and the natural rhythms of the earth… yes that means moon cycles. (astro calendar) Biodynamic agriculture is a holistic approach that we take physically in the vineyard and ethically within our business model.
Steve and Monique stopped using chemical fertilisers in 2001, and from winter 2008 they stopped using synthetic herbicides and fungicides on a third of their vineyard. In 2008 they also started applying the biodynamic soil spray, Preparation 500. Achieving Biodynamic certification through ACO in 2013 was a significant accomplishment for Steve, Monique and the Tasmanian wine dynamic. Currently, although some vineyards practice elements of Biodynamic agriculture, both in Australia and abroad, Stefano Lubiana Wines remains the first and only Biodynamic certified vineyard and winery in Tasmania.
Steve and Monique Lubiana view the Biodynamic philosophy as a step back to traditional farming, before conventional farming started to manipulate the environment. We believe putting the health of our environment at the forefront of everything we do in the vineyard will undoubtedly produce superior fruit that expresses more concentration, clarity and flavour.
We carry this approach through the entirety of our business not excluding our Osteria, which has its own Biodynamic market garden, chickens and beehives. Our Derwent Valley Winery is supplemented by solar power and every item of green waste is recycled through composting, as is all green winery waste.