In mid 2017 I met Craig and Tara Sullivan. They have a 1 acre Chardonnay vineyard planted on a steep north facing slope 500 metres above sea level in the commune of Cherryville in the Adelaide Hills. Planted in 2003, it was close planted 1 metre apart with single canes and narrow rows, unable to be accessed by tractor. I expressed an interest in taking it on, reenergising the project that Craig, a full-time topiary expert and landscape gardener, no longer had the time for. Even though my experience in viticulture was limited, my desire to learn to nurture with organic practices was sky high.
I wanted to revert the vines back to cane pruned. Lift some vines higher and lower others. Direct all the energy to producing clean and concentrated precise fruit to express a time and a place. So I chewed out the ears of anyone who would listen on techniques and directions to make this happen. Armed with simple borrowed tools and a heap of passion and determination I gave it my blood, sweat and a fair few tears. Now, after 3 years it has produced a crop worthy of a bottle, cork and a label.
2019 was again another hot and dry year. Bunches were plentiful but small and light. Powdery mildew set in late in the ripening window which tends to happen each year. I had managed to not spray any sulphur in the vineyard up until this point so I decided to hit it with some milk whey and leaf pluck the entire fruit zone. Luckily the days were warm and sunny and the birds stayed away letting the rays dry up the mildew and ripen the fruit gently without scorching the skins.
The fruit was hand harvested into 10kg crates and slid down the slope. The fruit was whole bunch pressed into an 8-year-old french oak barrique and barrel fermented on full lees. Once primary was finished it was racked and returned onto fine lees and left to settle naturally. Some bâtonnage over the winter months helped focus the fruit. It was racked and bottled in January 2020.
Introducing Baies de Cherryville, a wine born from passion, determination and a product of adventure.