The Brook Eden vineyard is sited along a ridge of deep, free-draining basalt soil on a small, North and East facing hill in the Pipers Brook region of North East Tasmania.
We have four vineyard blocks that total 3Ha of closely-planted vines. Three blocks were planted in 1988 by John and Sheila Bezemer with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, and on block planted late 2014 by Annette and Ed Ferrero with Pinot Noir and Lagrein.
All vines are planted on own roots, but for the curious single row of Semillon, planted by the original owners (presumably as a trial) which has been grafted over to Pinot Noir clone D5V12.
Our Chardonnay is 8127, but expresses itself quite differently, on the more vigorous, higher RAW value soils of the Bottom block, than on the Top block near the cellar door.
The Pinot Noir is a mixture of 4 clones, 3 delightfully upright ones which give little trouble with shoot positioning and one which is worse than Chardonnay on a bad hair day. Clones are D5V12a; G5V15; 0013; and 0014. These are all clones from the 1960’s which we’re probably imported for their propensity for sparkling wine production, but the entire combination has merit for table wine, as proven in 2005 with the Trophy winner, in 2008 when our Pinot won several gold medals, in 2012 with James Halliday awarding 96 points to our Pinot Noir.
The Pinot Gris, which replaced a small planting of Cabernet Sauvignon in 2006, is all D1V7.
Late in 2014 we planted a Hectare with new vines. This is on a gently sloping block to the south of our top Chardonnay block. Planting are Pinot Noir, with Able and 115 clones, and Lagrein - a new addition to our vineyard and probably to Tasmania.
The vineyard has been managed organically from 2008 to 2013. More recently we have moved to sustainable viticulture where we use low-toxicity herbicides under the vine rows and strive to maintain low-impact, mostly organic practices for other vine management needs.
This is a cool site, within a cool-climate, so, in our opinion, represents viticulture "on-the-edge". It can be challenging, but from just such a site can come some exceptional wines.
In warm, dry years we will shine, producing some truly magnificent wines, such as the 2005 vintage, where our Pinot won Trophy for Best Pinot Noir at the Tasmanian Wine Show and Trophy for Best Red Wine of Show.
In cold, wet years, we’ll struggle. In those years, we’ll put more of our fruit into sparkling wine (because fruit for sparkling wine is picked earlier and less ripe than for table wine) and because this region is acknowledged as producing the best sparkling wine in Australia.
The existing vineyard was planted in the late 1980’s to Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Chardonnay. Merlot was added in the mid 1990’s.
We made Cabernet Sauvignon for the last time in 2005, then replaced the vines with Pinot Gris, which is more suited to our climate than Cabernet.
The existing vineyard is all trellised to VSP in a 2.1m row x 0.7m vine spacing. All vines are cane-pruned by hand, to bud numbers based on pruning weight ratios and individual vine vigour. Depending on the block, soil, and vine vigour, we lay down between 90-180,000 buds/Ha, or 18-36 buds per vine.
The aim is to produce vines with an optimum balance of fruit to leaf area and to enable all leaves to have good sunlight exposure with minimal shading within the canopy, as excessive shading can result in underperforming leaves, "green" flavours in the wine, higher fungal disease pressure and poor bud initiation in the following year.
During the growing season, we undertake extensive, hand, canopy management of: shoot positioning; shoot thinning; leaf removal; and fruit thinning to maintain that all important balance of fruit-to-leaf ratio and eliminate dense, shaded areas of the canopy.
Our newer vineyard has been planted with slightly wider row spacings at 2.3m, and more space between the vines at 1.5m.
In the 2017 vintage season, from July 2017 to June 2017, we are trialling a high trellis method, where the fruiting shoots will be trained to grow from the top of the vine down to the ground. This should place our fruit in the sunniest part of the canopy, and help us to manage our more vigorous vines.
Since 2013, we have planted over 1400 native trees and shrubs to create windbreaks around the vineyard, and to create a wildlife corridor that will connect Brook Eden and our wetlands at the front of our property to Piper’s Brook at the rear of the property.