Armidale Vineyard

The vineyard is situated 985 metres above sea level. The view from the vineyard stretches from here to eternity across a tranquil rural landscape. It is situated only a stones throw away from the rugged Gara Gorge. With a 1000 metre drop from top to bottom we consider this "our other good drop".

The New England is well known for its crisp, bracing winter, mild summer and glowing autumn. It is this temperate climate that allows the fruit to ripen slowly and develop the wonderful flavours associated with cool climate wine.

Care of our vines and consideration for our environment are our highest priorities. We recognise our obligations to meet industry, government and community expectations in relation to our environmental duty of care. In order to achieve our production goals, and produce a quality product with minimal impact on the environment, Thunder Ridge has adopted the principals of Integrated Pest Management. This approach uses a combination of different control strategies to overcome pests, weeds and disease. Combining these strategies reduces our reliance on chemicals in the vineyard. The chemicals that are used are carefully selected so they don't harm us, our birds, reptiles and beneficial bugs. Consequently those birds, lizards and good bugs help us control our bad bugs.

All of the fungicides and insecticides used at Thunder Ridge are checked against the PAN Pesticides Database to ensure that these chemicals contain no known carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens or reproductively toxic agents.

Our entire spray program is also checked against the Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaption to ensure that we present minimal risk to our population of beneficial insects.

Sheep are introduced into the vineyard during winter in order to reduce our use of herbicides. During the coming winter months we will be mulching our under vine area to help further reduce our need for herbicides in the vineyard. We perform regular soil & petiole analysis to assist us in developing an appropriate fertiliser management plan. Our grape yields are closely monitored, and supplementary water is used rarely.

Our vines are spur pruned by hand and all harvesting is done by hand.

Our Wine

The Australian Wine and Brandy Corp (AWBC) is the government body responsible for regulating the wine industry in Australia. Under the AWBC's Label Integrity Program at least 85% or more of the wine must come from the region of origin, and at least 85% of the fruit must be the variety specified on the label.

Only grapes grown at Thunder Ridge are used for making Thunder Ridge wines. Our chardonnay is 100% chardonnay. Our Merlot is 100% merlot. Our wines are 100% true New England flavour.

Pruning the Vines

Well it's a job that must be done. You often hear moans and grizzles coming from many a vigneron about pruning, but I've never really figured out why habit I suppose. It's not a bad job - actually it's my favourite time in the grape patch. I don't make it too hard on myself either. I pick the best sunny, winter days to poke quietly along as I admire the view from the vineyard whilst keeping one eye on the secateurs and the other on my fingers.

I had a little bit of company on Saturday, Doug & Nadine from Walden Woods Farm came over to lend a hand and Rob McIlveen drove up from Tamworth to learn a thing or two about pruning vines.

Doug & Rob led the forward charge staging a pre-pruning reconnaissance mission. I came through in the second sortie forcing the remaining canes to yield to two buds or die for their pointless cause of assuming an errant position. Nadine had been wounded in a prior offensive (crook wrist) so she took control of the fallen enemy arranging them in orderly bundles ready to be marched out of the vineyard by Peter.

Feeling a little battle fatigued by lunch time, we withdrew to the cellar door for rations. Our wounded soldier (Nadine) requested a glass of wine for medicinal purposes. Peter thought the '07 chardy would be most beneficial. We all had a glass or two (except Doug...wowser!) - You never know, RSI might be contagious?? No-one else has caught it yet so perhaps the chardy worked. And then of course we needed something to soothe our tired muscles before venturing back to the vineyard...a small glass of '07 Merlot from the private stash seemed like the perfect remedy so we all had one (except Doug...wowser!).

Much has been said in recent times about the healthful properties of wine. I'm beginning to think there might be something in it because Rob certainly had a healthy glow about him when we headed back to the vines.

Cheers
Susan.

Rob Mcilveen Tamworth