Our Vines and Soils
Our vines are planted along rows spaced 3.5 meters apart with posts forming 4 meter panels supporting the vines planted about one meter apart. The Merlot and Zinfandel vines were trained to form a double spur along a cordon wire about 1.3m meters high. The Chardonnay and Cabernet vines do not have a permanent double spur and are cane pruned with a new cordon cane pulled down each year. During the wet winter months we plant an inter-row cover crop usually with a rye-grass and clover mix, occasionally a brassica mix or mustard-seed crop. The inter-row and under vine is slashed two or three times in the spring and early summer to provide a thick hatch on the soil to preserve moisture and organic material to the soils. Broadcast natural mineral fertiliser (preferably with rock phosphate if available) is applied around budburst after soil sampling, and under-vine compost and mulch is applied occasionally. We hand prune the spurred vines, or select and pull down the new season cordon canes and hand prune the remaining canes in July and August. Often we barrel prune the spurred vines first. After the canes have grown, around December they are lifted and held vertically above the cordon with two wires. Later the vines are hedged as required to reduce vigour. Under-vine drip irrigation is provided for some vines on the hotter days, the Cabernet vines have not been irrigated for quite a few years. Through-out the growing season we spray the traditional copper-sulphate (Bordeaux mix) to prevent mould and prior to veraison we also spray foliar fertilisers such as sea-weed or compost ‘tea’.
The western Palmer block planted in 1998 has 1,900 cabernet sauvignon vines with the rows oriented east-west as they traverse a gentle north facing slope towards the dam. The top slope soils are predominantly Forrest Grove gravelly sand transitioning to Keenan loam in the moister lower slope (about 13% of the total area of the vineyard).
The eastern Burton block planted in 2000 has Murgite sandy clay loam at the eastern end where the 1,900 chardonnay vines are planted (about 13% of the total vineyard area). The soil transitions into Forrest Grove sandy clay loam with some areas of shallow gravel Forrest Grove in the 2,150 plantings of Merlot vines where the sub-terrain sheet laterite can be quite superficial in a few places. Towards the western end of the block the soils are the more typical gravelly loam Forrest Grove soil where the remaining Merlot and the 1,800 Zinfandel vines are planted.