Even before launching the tour company in 2006, I’ve had an interest in viticulture and winemaking. Since then, I’ve volunteered to help pick and prune in the vineyard as well as work in wineries. As a result, an opportunity came about in 2011 to make my own wine, the diVine tours Shiraz. New and old barriques were sourced and grapes were organised from a local grower for the following vintage. Unfortunately, the 2012 vintage ended up being one of the wettest in recent times and the grapes never ripened. There has been an attempt to make a Shiraz every year since.
Ready to make first wine but mother nature brought a very wet vintage to the Hunter Valley. As a result, the grapes never ripened and a wine was not made.
The first diVine tours Shiraz was made. A ton of Shiraz grapes was purchased from DeBortoli’s 35 year old ‘Will’s Hill’ vineyard. The grapes were picked at 12.5 baume resulting in a lighter style of Hunter Valley Shiraz. Open fermentation was performed in two small picking bins with hand plunging daily. The wine was matured in both old and new French oak barriques for 10 months.
The 2014 vintage in the Hunter Valley, has been labelled as one of the best years ever recorded. Shiraz grapes used for this wine were sourced from the Somerset Vineyard in Pokolbin, Hunter Valley. This iconic vineyard was planted in 1968 on volcanic clay soil over limestone. The days following veraison saw warm days with very little rain. This resulted in flavour filled, disease free grapes with good sugar ripeness and acidity.
A 1.5 ton parcel of Shiraz was de-stemmed, crushed and cold soaked overnight in a open stainless steel vat. The must was inoculated with a Rhone yeast strain and the ferment was hand plunged three times daily. Maturation followed in a combination of new and old French oak barriques for 12 months.
The 2014 diVine tours Shiraz has been made in a traditional Hunter Valley ‘Burgundian’ style. It’s medium bodied, cherry red in colour and displays hints of blueberries, mulberries and pepper on the nose. The palate is well rounded with smooth tannins and refreshing natural acidity providing a long finish.
Ended up being a wetter than average summer. The grapes never reached optimal ripeness and hence no wine was made.
Was supposed to be a great dryer year with the strong El Nino. Yet record amounts of rain fell and a few hail storms too. Pulled the pin on making a wine this year.
A hot and dry summer produced wines of great quality and intensity but with restricted yields. The grapes for this wine came from the 1968 plantings on the Sommerset Vineyard (the same as 2014).
The drier year reduced our allocation of grapes to 900kg instead of 1500kg. The wine making techniques were nearly identical to our 2014 shiraz except for 10 months in French oak instead of 12.
Another hot dry summer followed and it became difficult to source any good quality Shiraz grapes. There were plenty of great wines made this year this but yields were very low.
We ended up sourcing 1.5 tons of Shiraz grapes from Moppity Vineyards in the Hilltops region. Being a cooler wine-growing region meant a later harvest in mid-March.
Even though this region has the potential to make fuller-bodied wines, our aim was to create a lighter style of Shiraz. This was achieved by cooler fermentation temperatures, gentle pressing and a shorter time in old and new French oak barrels.
This winemaking adventure wouldn’t be possible without the assistance and guidance from Matt Burton at Gundog Estate. Thank you so much!