The MOOMBAKI vineyard was established in 1997 on the 105 acre farm we bought and moved to from Perth in 1994. After much researching and making sense of the seasons and variable soil types, we confirmed that we had the perfect spot to establish a vineyard. A gently sloping north facing slope, with a topography of free draining pea gravel soil, and protected from the cold south-westerly by 600 acres of river reserve which the vineyard backs onto.
Situated between Denmark and Walpole along the south coast of Western Australia, we are in an ideal wine growing region. Denmark is one of 5 sub-regions of the Great Southern – the others being Frankland River, Mt Barker, Porongurups, and Albany. We do seem to have a pretty special microclimate and ripen a few weeks earlier than Denmark GI.
Over the years MOOMBAKI has become renowned for producing wines that are consistent high-award achievers (including a Halliday 5 Red Star Rating) and for our ecological approach to the vineyard and wetlands. Producing wines on a small scale allows us the freedom to do it well; hand-picked parcels of fruit, minimal intervention winemaking, and excellent oak handling allow the wines to express the character of their terroir.
At the outset we planted what we thought we could afford to net (birds being the biggest vineyard pest, and cause of disease pressure), which was about 5 acres, and planted the varieties that would suit our topography and of course, what we like to drink!
So, essentially we were after an exceptionally good Cabernet Bordeaux style, a fruit driven Shiraz and an elegant wooded Chardonnay. Now, we wouldn’t mind a bit of Pinot, and Sauv Blanc as well . . . but there’s only so much one can do!
Although we are not entirely organic we do put in a huge effort to make the vineyard as sustainable as possible and use no nasties, like pesticides. We believe that in this cool climate we need the option of an occasional botrytis spray or we’d be struggling each year and end up with something less than fabulous.
Our plan and experience is that we want ripe flavours, clean disease-free fruit – perfect bunches – that speak of the essence of the place, our Terroir, and that if we hand tend and manage these vines and treat the land respectfully it will show in the fruit, and the resulting wines.
The pruning is the single most important vineyard job of the year – it takes around three months . . . and we do it all ourselves.
Our vines, all 4280 of them, are carefully cane-pruned, which does take three times longer than spur-pruning, but gives us the added advantage of less disease pressure, as we are wrapping down a new cane each year.
Contrary to popular belief, pruning is actually quite a pleasant and meditative practice (unless you are doing it with your husband!), and most days start cold and become pleasant, warm ones. There are, however, the wild storms, gale force winds, and torrential downpours when, instead of being a martyr in the wet weather gear, hand-knitted beanies, and soggy boots – it’s best to make a dash for the ute and the thermos and Radio National!