The vineyard is located 12km east of the cool climate district of Orange, NSW, a few kilometres north ofthe hamlet of Lucknow. The 6.2 hectare vineyard was first planted in 2005, selling grapes from 2008 and commencing our own wine production in 2010 under the label Sassy Wines.
At an altitude of 850 to 900m above sea level all the vines are orientated in a north-south direction and on sloping blocks, mostly frost free.
The soils are of 5 types which produced different flavour characteristics even within the three plots in the vineyard. The soils arise from bedrock dating back 460 million years. The underlying rock is known as the Oakdale Formation and contains diverse basic volcanic material, much of which is sandstone, siltstone, breccia and conglomerate derived from basalt and andesite. For more extensive explanation of the Orange region terroir go to Orange Terroir.
The planting of each variety has been very site specific, matching our soil types with the optimal topographical aspect.
Biodynamic and organic principles are used however, Sassy Wines is not certified in either category.Viticultural practices include mulching, fertigation with worm juice, the use of natural chemicals eg Seasol (seaweed spray), regular composting, mulching and sheep grazing in winter. Water supply from our 4 acre dam. A bore sunk in 2014 which is our water insurance plan.
The varieties grown are Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and an Italian white variety Arneis. Chardonnay was grafted in 2014. All vines are on own roots except Shiraz clone SAVII 19, which is on rootstock 101-14. For those interested in the vine nitty-gritty the clones are as follows;
- Shiraz: 1654, 1125, 1127, BVRC 30 and SAVII 19
- Pinot Noir: 114, 115, 777 and 667
- Pinot Gris: D1V7
- Riesling: GM 198
- Sauvignon Blanc: F4V6
- Viognier: HTK
- Arneis: CVT CN15 and CN19
- Chardonnay:76, 95 and 96
All varieties are hand pruned using mostly cane pruning is used throughout the vineyard with the exception of Shiraz, which responds better to spur pruning to prevent over cropping. Canopy management is vertical shoot positioning (VSP).
Basically our vineyard calender is delayed somewhat in comparison to warmer areas, due to the altitude. Generally bud burst occurs in the first week of October and harvest is between late March to May each year. The ripening season is slow and the vines are grown in similar temperatures to those of Burgundy, though here in Orange we have more sunlight hours, giving more opportunity for photosynthesis. Netting is used in all of the vineyard for protection against bird damage.
Most grapes varieties are mechanically harvested and once picked, head to Mudgee for winemaking. The whites are harvested in the cool of the evening and the reds during the day. The red wines are returned to our small winery where the last 12 to 18 month barrel work is carried out under Rob's watchful eye.