“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”
The soil and climate of the South East Coastal region around Esperance is not dissimilar to that of the Mediterranean, so it is unsurprising we focus on Portuguese, Spanish and some Italian grape varieties. Vines were planted by hand in the early 1990s after Jim had extensively researched the compatibility of various grape varieties with our soils and climate. After initial success with a 5 acre planting a second planting was made to complete the current vineyard that covers 12 acres.
Today the vineyard grows eight varietals – whites: Chenin Blanc, Verdelho and Chardonnay, and reds: Shiraz, Touriga Nacional, Grenache, Zinfandel and Tinta Cão.
Our artisan approach to winemaking extends through to the vineyard with the majority of tasks from picking to pruning completed by hand. We acknowledge that great wines are made primarily in the vineyard by producing premium fruit. Our hands-on approach to all aspects of vineyard management allow us maximum creative control to produce the best quality grapes possible.
The season begins in winter with pruning. Our small team brave the winter chill to prune each vine by hand with the specific intentions for its fruit production the following season in mind. The balance between production volume and fruit quality is determined at this stage. At Condingup Vineyard grapevines are spur pruned on a VPS trellis system that is managed in the lazy ballerina style.
In spring time the buds burst and the vines begin to grow supple green leaves. Over the next weeks and months the vines draw up nutrients from the soil and take in energy from the sun as the supple leaves transform into long canes covered with green leaves and tendrils that reach up towards the sky. The grapevines flower and set fruit. All this time the progress is carefully monitored and any pests and diseases such as powdery mildew are prevented with the application of elemental sulphur and copper spray known as the Bordeaux Blend.
As the days lengthen into summer the small berries begin to swell and change colour, this is known as verasion. The berries continue to develop and mature throughout the summer months. Maintaining a healthy canopy of leaves during the heat of the summer months is key to protecting our precious grapes from sun damage. Healthy leaves also allow to vines to draw plenty of energy from the sun for the vines to convert into sugar to store in the grapes. Once the berries change colour they attract the attention of hungry birds, their advances are deterred through the application of bird netting.
Autumn is grape harvest time. The grapes mature on the vines and their ripeness and quality are carefully monitored. Aneta and Jim spend many hours in the vineyard during this period. The style of wine to be made will determine the level of ripeness the grapes are picked at. Once the grapes reach optimal ripeness they are picked by hand into small plastic crates and delivered to the winery to embark on the next chapter of their journey.