Doug Govan talks about the Rudderless vineyards…
The Lower Vineyard
“The original level-headed plan had been to plant 2.5 acres behind the hotel on my own property. However an identical size piece of land to the west beckoned me for two reasons.
Firstly it had been established with five meter tall almond trees which blocked the panoramic view; and secondly it had a gentler slope and would accordingly be easier to establish.
There was only one snag, I only owned about a quarter of this precious little parcel of land. So amicable negotiations with Andrew Just and his family resulted in a long term lease being established.
I was determined to make everything as difficult as possible. Thirty four rows, not one with the same length as another. Four different varieties with cuttings taken from ten different vineyards. I traveled the countryside in the middle of winter taking cuttings from some of my favorite wineries.
My rationale was not to try and emulate their wines, but to at least start off with vines that had a story that was meaningful to me. Consequently vines were sourced and planted in spring of 1999.
The summer of 2000 was one of the most ferocious on record with mean maximum temperatures in January and February being 3.1 degrees above normal.
February had 18 days with maximum temperatures above 30 degrees. And Sellicks Hill had plenty of hot gully winds! Along with Cuculiobeetles and dehydrated, hungry kangaroos, conditions weren’t ideal for establishing a new vineyard.”
That was the establishment phase of the ‘initial’ vineyard. These vines will produce 1.5 to 2.0 tonnes per acre.
The Upper Vineyard
Four years later, the ‘upper’ vineyard was planted on a much steeper slope in harsher soil in the spring of 2003. I expect this vineyard to produce even less fruit; perhaps in the order of 1.0 – 1.5 tonnes per acre. It is an even, rectangular planting behind the hotel. Once again I braved the elements with two muddy golden retrievers in tow during some pretty stormy winter days to take most of the cuttings from really great vineyards in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. The Viognier and Graciano were both sourced from the “South Australian Vine Improvement” group.
The combined plantings from both vineyards can be seen in a much simpler format as follows:
- Shiraz – 36
- Graciano – 22
- Grenache – 16
- Malbec – 13
- Mataro – 8
- Viognier – 5