BANTRY BAY ESTATE

NATIONAL VINEYARD FUND OF AUSTRALIA LIMITED

THE VINEYARD

The Bantry Bay Estate vineyard, is partly owned by NVFAL, and has been producing premium fruit for brands such as Houghtons, Yalumba and Brookland Valley for the past 15 years. 

The property is located in the northern part of the Margaret River region approximately 240km south of Perth in Western Australia.  Bantry Bay Estate is located approximately 30 km south east of Busselton and 32km north of the regional town of Margaret River.

 

NVFAL owns approximately 51.5ha of land which is approximately 1/6 of the entire Bantry Bay property (of 240 ha).  It is located in the famed Willyabrup sub-region of Margaret River on the western side of Vasse Highway and the eastern side of Caves Road.  The site ranges between 40 and 90m above sea level.

The property was developed by FABAL Operations for NVFAL in 1999 and then 2003.  The freehold property, part of the original property was acquired by NVFAL in 2002.

The entire property is planted to five red varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) and fourwhite varieties (Chardonnay, Semillon, Verdelho and Sauvignon Blanc).  The balance is farming land and native vegetation.  It is also home to the Vasse Virgin Olive Oil Co and the Bahen Chocolate Company businesses.
The property was traditionally used for cropping and grazing land. 
 
The land is undulating and is serviced by run-off from streams and soaks for its water supply.  The soils range from sandy loams through to ironstone gravels with clay subsoils.  The land is blessed with significant surface run-off and there is no regulation of water in Margaret River at this time.  The water is stored in one shared 250ML dam and another 30ML ‘turkeys nest’ dam owned by NVFAL for backup purposes.  
Irrigation is discussed in the Water section below.

THE REGION

Margaret River region is one of the most famous Australian wine regions despite the fact that it has only been growing grapes for just under 50 years.  It was first planted in 1967 and has been recognized for its unique maritime climate.  It is only 3 hours south of Perth and enjoys an enviable diversity of coastal activities to add to the wine interest.
 
While it only contributes approximately 3% of the nation’s crush, it commands a preeminent position in international marketing of Australian wine.
 
The distinct region is a peninsula of around 100 kilometres long by just 27 kilometres wide.
The Vasse Highway and the famous Caves Road led visitors to most of the wineries in the region.

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VINEYARD LAYOUT

Today, Bantry Bay Estate vineyard is a mix of red varieties (NVFAL has Shiraz) and white varieties (NVFAL has Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon). 
The mix of wine grape varieties planted on Bantry Bay Estate were planned by FABAL Operations in conjunction with the major purchaser of grapes from the property, Accolade Wines Australia, the owner of the famous Houghton (and Brookland Valley) brand.

After the 2012 shift, it is planted to 29.0ha of vineyard on the 52ha property.

CLIMATE AND SOIL

The average rainfall of the northern region of the Margaret River is approximately 1,100mm per annum.  More importantly, the majority falls in the winter and spring (May to October) periods with lower likelihood of summer rain during the growing season.  This results in reduced disease pressure from post rain events.  There is low likelihood of hail but the maritime climate significantly reduces frost risk.  There is approximately 1,550 hours of sunshine from October to April of each (the heat degree index).
The property has soils of loamy sandy gravels over an ironstone base.  There is a mixture of yellow sands and clay subsoils that drain reasonably well after significant field work carried out by FABAL Operations prior to planting. 
Both soil types are good for growing premium wine grapes once the soil drainage work was undertaken. The vineyard was established around this information (row orientation, dripper systems, planting density available water/drainage) based upon detailed research and investigation by experts in vineyard design and soil mapping. 
 
Soil nutrition is another important factor that can affect growth and FABAL Operations implemented (pre-planting) and maintains a regime for management of this input. NVFAL undertakes regular nutrient levels monitoring.

WATER AND IRRIGATION

Despite the high level of rainfall during the winter months, the grapevines require regular watering to supplement the natural annual rainfall.  To produce the quality of wine grapes expected for this business, Bantry Bay Estate vineyard requires approximately 1.5 to 2.0ML of water per hectare.  This is supplementary irrigation to the regions annual rainfall.
The Margaret River region has significant rainfall from May to October which is generally captured in dams for use as irrigation.
 
NVFAL considers irrigation and its management to be the most important aspect of its operations.  Considerable time was spent on the design of the irrigation system for the Bantry Bay Estate vineyard yet like all operating systems careful ongoing monitoring is critical.
Irrigation System:  The water is delivered to the grapevines through a series of pumps and mainlines according to the irrigation designed for the vineyard.  The sophisticated ‘in-line’ drip irrigation system, supplied by Netafim Australia in 1999, is considered the most effective supply of irrigation.  The irrigation system is controlled by a computer network which enables the efficient application of the water through centralised control.
 
Western Australian Water Entitlements:  At this time the Bantry Bay property is unlicenced and is not in a Prescribed Water Course Area and as such is not required to have a Water Licence for irrigations purposes.
Whilst NVFAL is satisfied that it has sufficient water and that the method of delivery via the surface runoff and shared dames will be sufficient to provide water for the vines in most years, it is a reality that supply can be restricted due to extremely dry conditions or other unforeseen events.