Research & Development

By Kim Chalmers

Research & Development

Making #bucketwines is fun.  But that’s not the only reason we do it.  It’s actually part of our research and development program.  By trialling things which may not seem logical, sometimes you come up with surprising results.

North eastern Italy with it’s areas of white stony soils in the far east, high altitude in the sub-alpine valleys of the north, generally high annual rainfall and humid summers in the lower lying areas seems a long way from inland Australia in terms of terroir.  And it is.  But we found that these North Eastern Italian varieties thrive in our Merbein vineyard and make some pretty cracking wines without the need for diddling about in the winemaking process.


Many of them seem to love the heat (although not all) and as long as they are sheltered from the harsh sun by the canopy, and not let to dry out too much, they can be harvested early to make low alcohol, fresh wine styles in the harsh Aussie summers.  Often in their homeland these varieties can be lean and green in cooler seasons so the warm climates are a good option for achieving more fruity styles without being overripe.

The red grapes of this area seem to be softer and more plush than the classic tannic/acidic profile of the more famous Italian red grapes and many of the whites have lovely aromatics and bright fruit profiles.  When these aspects are combined with the freshness from early harvest and the ripeness from the hot climate – delicious wine ensues!

Bare Ground

So from the success of a number of #bucketwines from these NE Italian grapes we have stepped the R&D up a notch.  Today we are planting a 1.3Ha patch made up of six different varieties at our Heathcote vineyard in the northern part of the GI on the Mt Camel Range.


The winners are:  Garganega from the Veneto, Nosiola from Trentino, Malvasia Istriana from Friuli in the whites and Pavana from Trentino & Veneto, Schioppettino and Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso from Friuli in the reds.


It will take a couple of seasons to see any grapes from this new block but we are excited to make some wines from Heathcote where the warm summers are slightly less ferocious and the rainfall is about double.  Should be very interesting!  I’m sure there will be a few adventurous winemakers interested in getting their hands on some of these grapes too.

#bucketwine research outcomes in action – watch this space…

Cheers, Kim


*typo alert: schioppettino mis-spelt on the tag in the image.

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