Earnscleugh / AlexandraShare
At the other end of the Alexandra Basin is our largest vineyard, our home farm (H.Q.) and our Private Paddock Club House. We grow Pinot and Riesling here and we have orchards, organic vegetables, lavender, cows, pigs, duck, chickens, sheep...
This lovely, sheltered and warm site in the Earnscleugh Valley was purchased in 2000. Formerly a small farm, and a Crop + Food Research Station, it is now primarily a vineyard and our main vineyard at that. Now some 60 hectares in all (perhaps 130 acres), 5.56 hectares are under grape, mostly Pinot Noir. But we also grow cherries, nectarines, saffron, lavender, truffles vegetables, sheep, cumquats, walnuts, olives and chickens (for eggs only) and so on. A bounteous little farm.
At Red Bank (H.Q.) we have our office and our beautiful Private Paddock Club House. We have Club House tours for wine club members by prior appointment - this includes a guided tour of the organic farm and vineyard, access to The Club House and our NZ art collection plus a taste of three wines.
For the statistically minded – the Pinot here was planted in 2000 and 2001, and the clones are 115, 10/5, 667, 777 and 114 dominated by 115 and 667. Rootstocks include 3309, 3366, 101.14 and Shwarzmann. They are closely planted at 5500 vines / ha, 1.8m rows, 1m vine spacing and one block 1.5m rows and 1.2m vine spacing.
We also grow our Riesling here (198, and “Felton Road” clone). Generally speaking, the soils are river deposited gravelly loams with the exception of a clay seam in the southern corner which consists of 20 million year old sediments from Lake Manuherikia
A word of caution – the lavender oil produced at Red Bank Farm, if worn, will enliven your day, promotes healing of wounds and helps sleep, repels mosquitos but also makes you curiously irresistible to the opposite sex. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
We are now fully back into our organic programme. Philosophically we are not at all keen about agrichemicals and the rather regrettable industrial aspect of wine production we see elsewhere. Admittedly we are rather fortunate in some ways in that the Central Otago is well favoured towards organics -- the low humidity for instance means we are seldom challenged by fungi in the way some other regions might be. But we are, without being wild-eyed about all this, believers in a natural and healthy environment for our vines, for our staff and for you, the imbibing client. Soil health is essential as well.
This is an ongoing process -- we have in the past been certified organic, but we gave up our certification for a short time while we addressed weed problems in establishing new vineyards. Having crossed those bridges, we have, since 2013, been fully back into organics again and will be fully under the BioGro programme from 2017 vintage onwards.
So, while it's now considerably more work and investment to produce Two Paddocks wine, we think it worthwhile. Of course it's necessary to consider when you buy a good bottle of organically produced wine, that the bottle you are holding will have cost considerably more to produce than its conventionally farmed counterpart. Organics are by necessity labour intensive. It therefore should be no surprise that the wine will cost a little more.
On the subject of cost -- let's address the question of why a good bottle of Pinot costs somewhat more than some other reds. To paraphrase our friend Nigel Greening once more -- anything these days can be made on the cheap. That doesn't mean it will be any good. Pinot is more demanding of hard work than any other wine. A lot more hard work has gone into that bottle than its neighbour, the one made by machines in the vineyard. A good Pinot vine is by definition and by design the lowest yielding vine of all -- to produce the optimum ripe fruit, alive with profound fruit flavours balanced with smooth tannins and lively acids, it is regrettably necessary to drop more fruit on the ground as the season progresses than any sane man would consider sensible. The vine needs more attention by hand than you can credit -- at least fourteen visits a year each vine, pruning, shoot thinning, leaf plucking and so on. The list goes on. It is not a sane person's business -- Pinot. This is why we Pinot producers look at one another with empathy, sympathy, admiration and utter disbelief. What courage, what foolhardiness, what a nerve, what genius.