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our vineyard

The Beginning

Kimbarra Winery Vineyard

It was in 1977, after almost two years of site selection and varietal deliberation that a small parcel of land at Kimbarra was set aside from the general farming practices in order to establish a “modest vineyard” of some two hectares so that Eric could indulge his passion and make some wine for his own consumption with friends. There was a great deal of input from all quarters and none more so that of Colin Preece from Seppelt and Viv Thomson, from Best's. It was Viv who assisted Eric with varietal selection and steered him in the direction of a nursery at Gol Gol, near Mildura to source the best clones for the conditions and it was Colin Preece who dictated how the vines were to be spaced and planted. It may well have been Eric's land and Eric's money but things were either done Colin's way or not at all; a dictum that has paid hansom dividends since.

Varieties

Riesling
The 1.4 hectares of Riesling was planted on a South Westerly aspect with trellising set out across the slope on contour lines using all timber posts and wires set at 900mm high. Rows were set at 3 meters apart and vines planted at intervals of 1.5 meters. Initially dry grown, drip irrigation was introduced at one dripper per vine in 1982 and 1983 after a deep root system had been established. These vines are annually cropped at a conservative level of between two and three tonnes per hectare.

Cabernet Sauvignon
At the same time 0.6 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon was also planted to the same regime. These vines struggled to survive with hand watering for the first four years until a tank was placed on the hill above the vineyard and the first drippers installed. Initially the fruit from this block was rather green and the wines produced displayed overt vegetal characteristics, however with age the vines have matured and are producing high quality grapes.

Shiraz
The Leeke family were approached by Ian McKenzie, the then chief winemaker at Seppelt with a suggestion that they plant a new Shiraz vineyard and enter into a supply contract agreement with them. Consequently in 1995 an area with a Northerly aspect and soil consisting of loam light gravel and shale over orange clay and was selected. 9 hectares or nearly 20,000 vines of Shiraz were planted. This time the ground was ripped to a depth of 1 meter and dressed with lime, super phosphate and gypsum. The trellis and irrigation set up before planting the vines. This vineyard now produces between five and six tonnes per hectare of high quality fruit. Kimbarra Wines keep a small quality for their own label.

Viticulture & Soil Management

Well drained gentle slopes. Soil light brown loam over red orange clay. Standard vertical shoot positioning (VSP) trellis with a single fruit wire, 1 m high plus 2 foliage wires. Planted grid 3m x 1.7, 2 drippers per vine @ 2 l/hr.

A permanent sward of Ryegrass & Fescue has been sown in the midrows which has been left spread undervine. This ground cover helps to promote a healthy soil structure by increasing organic matter and improving the habitat for soil micro-organisms. Beneficial insect numbers have jumped over the last few years due to an increase in shelter and food. This result has primarily come about due to our management practices whereby we do not spray any herbicide undervine and we only slash every second row leaving valuable shelter for beneficial insects.

Harvest & Fruit Quality

Our Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling blocks have traditionally been harvested by an enthusiastic group of friends and family who enjoy the odd glass of wine and a BBQ by the dam at the end of a hard days picking. However, once the 9ha block of Shiraz was planted we found that our edger helpers soon lost interest at the idea of a weeklong pick rather than a weekend. Hence, we aim to machine harvest all of our blocks using a local contractor however, we do still keep the option of hand picking open for our older Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling blocks.

Grapes produced at Kimbarra are regularly classified as A Grade by our established fruit buyers and are used in the production of their ultra premium wines. However each year we reserve a small quantity of fruit in order that we might continue to indulge our family passion and share it with others.

See photos at "A Year In The Vineyard"