cool maritime rainshadow terroir expression

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Cool Maritime Rainshadow Terroir Expression


Tambo vineyard is located on a north east facing slope in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in south east Australia.

The cool maritime climate with relatively consistent intermediate temperature allows the fruit to slowly build complexity and purity.

The slope shelters the fruit from the wind, captures a higher amount of sunlight, and moderates yield.

Low fertility soil over a sandstone/limestone base further reduces yield and provides a mineral dimension to the fruit.

The Gippsland Lakes area receives an average of 1697 hours during the growing and ripening period making it one of the sunniest regions in south east Australia ensuring even ripe fruit flavours.


Full details of the vineyard and viticultural practices are outlined below.


Bought in 1993 and planted in 1994

Seven kilometres north of the Gippsland Lakes and 16 kilometres north of Bass Strait in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in South East Australia.


Between 85 and 105 metres above sea level (AHD) on a wind sheltered north east facing slope of 1 in 10.


37.49 degrees south.


1697 hours.


The topsoil is fine sandy clay loam with low fertility but rich in minerals.
The sub soil is predominantly shattered quartz in a gradational mottled clay profile over sandstone/ limestone.

The eroded top soil varies between 10 inches (25cm) to 16 inches (40 cm) in depth. The soil is derived from unconsolidated Tertiary and Pleistocene flood plain deposits of gravel, sand, silt and clay.
Much of the southern topography and sedimentary top-soils of the site originate from the Neoproterozoic era, a period between 800 and 500 million years ago, where the receding oceans and glacial movements that linked Australia with Antarctica deposited silt, sand and carbonate in large marine sedimentary basins, forming chalk, limestone, sandstone and shale.

These soil characteristics are increasingly contributing a site specific mineral element in the fruit character as the vines mature and colonise the soil mass.


Area of planting
Chardonnay – 8.6 acres (3.44hectares)
Pinot Noir – 1 acre (0.4 hectares)
Sauvignon Blanc – 0.9 acres (0.26 hectares)
Cabernet Sauvignon – 2.2 acres (0.88 hectares)
Total area 12.7 acres (5.08 hectares)

Planting density
2500 plants per hectare (1000 per acre)

Cropping levels
1.5 to 2.1 tonnes /acre (22.5 to 31.5 hl/ha)

Hand management typically involves:

  • Pre pruning assessment and replacement of cordons to ensure even spacing of buds;
  • Hand pruning and selecting bud numbers to suit soil volume, vine vigour and capacity;
  • Shoot thinning to open up the fruit zone and provide sunlight exposure appropriate to the variety and the desired wine style;
  • Wire lifting to maximise sunlight capture and minimise shading of the fruit;
    removal of unwanted buds and suckers to reduce competition;
  • Selective leaf removal from parts of the fruit zone in certain years;
  • Removal of fruit to encourage more even ripening in parts of the Pinot Noir;
    trimming of parts of the vineyard to concentrate energy to ripen the fruit;
  • Sampling of fruit to assess sugar and physiological ripeness;
  • Pre harvest removal of sub premium fruit;
    selective hand harvesting and removal of sub premium fruit;
  • Hand sorting the fruit; and
    spreading the residue of the winemaking process in less vigorous areas of the vineyard.

Prior to planting the vegetation in the area, the soil type and depth and vigour of the pasture grasses on the site were assessed in relation to the requirements of the varieties and clones (types of varieties) selected accordingly.

A further investigation was conducted with vineyard managers from comparable cool climate areas in terms of the preferred vineyard requirements for the variety and clone. Consideration was given to the capacity of the clone to consistently deliver wine judged as being of gold medal quality.

A final assessment of the suitability of the variety and clone to this cool climate maritime area was conducted with the assistance of the Victorian Department of Primary Industries in relation to the genetic history of the clone and the results of the field trials.

With the assistance of a viticultural consultant with wide experience in comparable cool areas the varieties and clones were finally chosen and sourced.
The following clones were chosen:

Clones – 50 percent P58 and 50 percent I10 V1

Unknown clone sourced from the Mornington Peninsula

Clones – 50 percent MV6 and the rest D2V5; D5V12; and G5V15

Clone SA 126

The varieties were planted in the vineyard in relation to the amount, intensity and light profile of the sunlight required to produce the desired wine style. Factors such as the waveband of the sunlight captured at various parts of the day, the orientation and slope of the land, the exposure to afternoon sea breezes and the north and west sun were considered.

Chardonnay was planted in the south east to capture the less intense early light and to capture the afternoon sea breezes.

Sauvignon Blanc was next planted with a range of aspects to allow the development of a modern Australian Sauvignon style.

Pinot Noir was planted in a sheltered location with a mixture of early afternoon heat and sea breeze capture and a spread of clones to suit the varied soil types.

Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in the most wind sheltered north and west facing location to maximise sunlight capture and heat summation. Parts of this location received drainage from outside the vineyard area which allowed the vines to function longer into the autumn.

Vertical shoot positioning with a low cordon to keep the vine functioning into the early evening.

Irrigation is kept to a minimum with applications at flowering and at colour change to increase the number of small berries. In drier and hotter years irrigation is selectively applied to minimise stress and to maintain vine health

Increasingly low impact, organic outcomes are being trialled and implemented as our understanding of the site develops.


September, October:

The vintage year starts, when the buds and shoots start to push into beautiful green shoots.
.A lush soft time.

November, December:

The fruit buds form and flower. Fruit set depends greatly on warm days and gentle breezes. Mildews from humidity are a concern. The vines grow upwards at a rate of up to a foot a week. Suckers are removed, shoot thinning starts and the first wire lifted.

A time of promise.

January, February:

Regular rainfall, spraying for mildews, and canopy work continues. Veraison occurs, when the grapes change colour, and the birds can find the fruit easily. Monitoring of the fruit ripeness starts and the first pick of the Chardonnay occurs. Bottling of last seasons white wines.

The tempo starts to increase.

March, April:

The sugars are increasing in the fruits and usually, early in March, the harvest continues with workers coming in to assist in the handpicking. Late nights in the winery are due to the diligence in processing the fruit, and meticulous cleaning of equipment. The coffee machine and music keeps everyone going.

Smells of fermentation fill the winery

May, June:

Winemaking, bottling the red wines from the previous year, cleaning barrels for the new wines, following up on marketing, and planning for festivals in the summer keep everyone busy. Pre pruner comes and goes and hand pruning starts in June.

Pruning marks the start of the new season.

July, August:

Pressure is off. Pruning takes place over the winter months, and assessing improvements to the vineyard and winery. A time of thick gloves, beanies and working close to nature and the sheep enter the vineyard to maintain the grasses and provide fertiliser.

Winter birds, young hares and big skies. The vineyard rests