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Vineyards

Our vineyards and their terroir

 

Mudgee’s macroclimate is extremely well suited to reds, particularly varieties occurring towards the south of Europe, i.e. Spain, Southern France and parts of Italy. The varieties we have chosen also reflect the suitability of the area for reds, so Shiraz, Merlot and the variety which has become synonymous with Lowe – Zinfandel.

 

Having worked all over the world and made wine from some outstanding old vineyards there was only one route for us to take; unirrigated, untrellised and organic. This means that fruit flavours reflect the soil alone as there is no support from irrigation or artificial fertilisers. Fruit ripens earlier and is a bit more latent and lively, and very unique to the place in which it is grown.

 

The French call this “terroir” – a wine’s unique expression of place.

Tinja

Lowe’s Mudgee vineyards, situated on Tinja Lane, were planted in 1995. We have two Shiraz blocks in the vineyard. Both are organic, dry grown and untrellised and both show the distinctly different terroir in their wines.

 

The main Shiraz is from Block 8, it is sand and clay dominant, providing rounder, riper tannins, more black fruits and olive characters. On the other hand, Block 5, which consistently produces the Lowe Reserve Shiraz, is on stone and shale with more quartz. The wine from this block is very floral in character consistently with violet undertones, the structure is completely different – more austere tannins and locked in flavours. It takes a while to reveal its many layers and has always been a more latent wine style.

Nullo Mountain Vineyard

High elevation, lower alcohols and letting the terroir dominate is at the soul of David’s winemaking. Part of the Mudgee GI, the Nullo Vineyard in Rylstone is one of the highest planting of vines in Australia at 1100 metres. The Nullo Mountain vineyard is a very special place, there are savage sandstone escarpments dropping hundreds of metres into the Cudgegong River and agricultural country below on the Rylstone and Mudgee side and dense eucalyptus forests following down to the Wollemi Wilderness and Hunter Valley to the east.

 

With an annual rainfall of 1 metre and deep soils derived from 17 million year old lava flows, is it a unique vinicultural area. Whilst part of the Mudgee GI, the wines are far removed from other Mudgee styles. Although unique in terms of terroir, Nullo Mountain is 50km from the Lowe winery enabling each variety to be brought quickly to the winery. The grapes are then cold fermented using aromatic yeast to ensure that the fresh, regional fruit flavours were retained in the wine.

Mudgee, NSW

This is blue blood Mudgee terroir. The original vignerons chose this vineyard because of the soil quality and its access to the three wineries around it. The 40 acre vineyard was previously owned by Rosemount Wines and was the source of Mudgee’s most successful exported wines.

Organics and biodynamics

Our vineyards are all organic, having been converted in 2003. In the vineyard we use competitive biology, aiming to be completely chemical free in dry years and using half the organic standard of copper and sulphur in wet years. The goal is to lift vine health through soil health and complexity, and combat disease through an active and competitive leaf surface biology, essentially crowding out disease causing organisms.

 

When growing the grapes no herbicides, insecticides and most fungicides are prohibited. Chemicals used must be naturally occurring and not poisonous. This allows some sprays to be used that are not harmful, and not taken up by plant tissue. In addition, anything you add to the land must also be organic, particularly fertilizer. This is why we have a compost business to make our own fertilizer and any other mineral elements are in a mined not refined format.

 

You can only make organic wine from organic grapes.

 

To make better wine, David soon realised he needed the help of biodynamic practices. There are two key components to this:

 

  • Typically, you influence the soil microbial activity so that soil matter is alive with a balance of microbes that mineralise and feed plants. On one hand this reduces the necessity of adding quick hits of fertilizers which although immediately effective can end up unbalancing a biological process by overdosing.
  • The second part respects the form of agriculture that predates conventional farming where cosmos relationships determined the best times to manage a farm. Many industries subconsciously still practice this in varied forms, in the same way fishing is aided by tides and luna changes, so it is with Biodynamics in the vineyard. The astrological calendar becomes an aid to when the best time to apply changes to agriculture.

 

Our Tinja property at Mudgee is certified biodynamic and also we are commencing the same program for Rylstone. Nullo Mountain is a year or two away as logistically to gain the most from this program we need to observe and develop experience. This was in the case of the organic certification at Tinja which was commenced in 2003. Now the wines are better, and we all are looking to get better.

 

When you next visit the winery start a conversation or have a look at what we are doing by taking a walk through the vineyard. It’s only 30 meters from the winery.

 

Of course, this also extends to the winemaking, where the same thing goes: cleaning agents like chlorinated compounds are out, no organic wine can be mixed with non-organic wine.

 

Organic winemaking and organic grape growing involves auditing by a registered authority, in our case ACO (Australian Certified Organics), to determine that all stages of the process of grape growing and winemaking comply with a strict regime. To you it means the bud logo with a producer number attached, your guarantee that compliance is correct.

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