Great wine starts in the vineyard. It is here that the flavour, colour and tannins are produced. Although winemaking input can modify these characters the major influence is the season. Weather plays a huge part in the flavour outcomes of the grapes. It's all about the complex interactions of elements such as sunlight, temperature, soil moisture, nutrients and canopy management. With all this in mind we strive to produce the best possible grapes because you can't make good wine from bad grapes.

The fruit for Hawkers Gate wines is obtained from two different sources within McLaren Vale: The Hastwell & Lightfoot vineyards are on sandy soil with low nutrients, which is actually a benefit as it allows good control over the amount of water and nutrients the vines receive. The vines were planted between 1988 and 1994 and are trained to a two-wire sprawl system. Hawkers Gate sources both Shiraz and Chardonnay from here.

Hawkers Gate also has a management contract on the Ashcroft vineyard on the flats between McLaren Vale and Willunga. Here, the vineyard was planted to Shiraz on own roots in 1999. The vines were originally trained to a modified Smart-Dyson trellis system; however the vines are now trained to something resembling the halfway point between Smart-Dyson and a single-wire sprawl. This is to achieve the right balance of exposure and protection of the fruit. The soil ranges from a light brown sandy loam to black clay, with each soil type contributing its own characters to the complexity of the wine.


 

At Hawkers Gate we have just planted a trial block of Saperavi, which from others' accounts has the potential to make great varietal red wines in the spirit of Shiraz. It will be a few years before a wine is ready however. As far as we're aware there is only one other planting of this variety in McLaren Vale, so it will be very interesting to see just how the variety grows in this climate.

Plans are to plant a total of three to four acres of vines on the Hawkers Gate estate. This property has deep, well-drained sandy soil, which makes for good wine quality potential.