NEW MARANDOO ESTATE
NATIONAL VINEYARD FUND OF AUSTRALIA LIMITED
The New Marandoo Estate vineyard has been producing premium fruit for brands such as Hardys, Wolf Blass and Jacobs Creek for the past 16 years. While independent, it forms part of the larger Marandoo Estate vineyard owned by another FABAL related group, Marandoo Estate Limited. Totalled together, it is one of the largest farmed vineyards in the region.
The property is located in the eastern end of Langhorne Creek region approximately 85km south east of Adelaide in South Australia. Marandoo Estate is located approximately 10 km north east of Langhorne Creek township and 20 north east of the regional town of Strathalbyn.
NVFAL owns approximately 79ha of land, of which 63.5ha is currently planted. The site ranges between 20 and 40m above sea level. The property was developed by FABAL Operations for NVFAL in 1999. The entire property is planted to five red varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Dolcetto, Shiraz, Merlot and Petit Verdot) and one white variety (Verdelho). The balance is headlands, water reclamation and native revegetation areas. The property was traditionally used for cropping and grazing land.
The land is slightly undulating. Its water supply is from South Australian high security water licence and is delivered by two pipelines. One directly connects from the Creeks Pipeline Company and the other is connected via a dedicated pipeline owned by Marandoo Estate Limited.
Langhorne Creek region is one of the least known Australian wine regions despite the fact that it has been growing grapes for over 160 years. Until the 1970’s, the region was known for supplying quality grapes to both Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale to supplement their wine programmes and few wine were known to exist from this region.
After the success of the Wolf Blass brand in the Australian show circuit during the early 1970’s, Langhorne Creek started to carve out its own wine name. However, this has been slow to develop as the major wine groups choose to bring the excellent wines from the region into products with a wider geographical indication such of South Australia.
It was first planted in 1850 and has been recognized for its unique maritime influenced climate from being close to Lake Alexandrina. The afternoon breezes of the lake give some cooler climate characteristics to the generally warm region.
The region is only 1 hour south east of Adelaide and has a diversity of horticulture activities to add to the wine production base. It contributes approximately 3% of the nation’s crush but it does not command any significant position in Australian or international marketing of Australian wine.
Today, New Marandoo Estate vineyard is substantially a mix of red varieties. The key varieties in Langhorne Creek are Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot. The mix of wine grape varieties planted on Marandoo were planned by FABAL Operations in conjunction with the original purchasers of grapes from the property, Accolade Wines Australia and Australian Vintage.
It is currently planted to 63.5ha of vineyard on the 79.0ha property. There is potential to plant another 5.0 ha if required. The current layout of the entire property and its vineyard is shown below.
CLIMATE AND SOIL
The average rainfall of the northern region of Langhorne Creek is approximately 520mm 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 frost may affect the lower part of the site in some years. There is approximately 1,850 hours of sunshine from October to April of each (the heat degree index).
The site is open and has an undulating terrain. The soil on the property varies from red sandy clay loam. 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. 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 expends considerable resources to ensure that nutrient levels are monitored regularly.
WATER AND IRRIGATION
Despite the 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, Marandoo Estate vineyard requires approximately 3.0ML of water per hectare per annum. This is supplementary irrigation to the regions annual rainfall.
The Langhorne Creek region has moderate rainfall from May to October which is generally accepted into the sandy loams for natural uptake by the vines in the early growing season. From mid-October, the soils require the supplementary irrigation to be introduced and this continues through the hotter seasons in February and March when the fruit is picked.
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 Marandoo Estate vineyard but a risk still exists that the irrigation system may malfunction.
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 1998, 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.
South Australian Water Entitlements: At this time the New Marandoo property is licenced with 150ML of SA high security water licence. Any additional water requirements are leased on the water market on an annual basis. Whilst NVFAL is satisfied that it has sufficient water and that the method of delivery 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.