Sam's original vineyard. Planted here in the heart of the Gibbston Valley in 1993. 100% Pinot Noir. 4.6 hectares.
This, our first vineyard, we planted in 1993 with clone 5 Pinot Noir, as well as a certain amount of an upright Lincoln clone – this latter proved unsatisfactory and we have now supplanted it, leaving only 2 rows as shelter. Originally the vineyard was only 2 hectares, fairly miniscule.
In addition to that, the Gibbston Valley was always thought a little too marginal to be reliable (400m high, 600mm annual rainfall and only 800+ GDD).
However Gibbston has consistently proved the pundits wrong, and is now one of the world’s best known pockets for pinot. And our wine from our even tinier pocket has proved amazingly good year after year and often becomes a single vineyard wine (Called Two Paddocks Proprietor's Reserve The First Paddock Pinot Noir).
This continued excellence moved us, in 2008, to double the size of our vineyard there taking it to some 5 hectares in all. The new planting is clone 5, 943, 115 and 10/5 on rootstock 101.14. All planted at 3400 vines per hectare. The oldest vines are on their own roots. Inevitably, in time we will need replace them. In the mean time they are growing the most elegant pinot noir imaginable.
Our neighbours at First Paddock are Roger and Marliese Donaldson (Sleeping Dogs) and Henry Van Asch (Havoc Wines). Roger is a very old friend of the Proprietors – they worked together on film when sound was brand new. Henry is co founder of the fearsome bungy.
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.