PRUNING has started at Diana and Hew Richards’ Midhill Vineyard, Romsey.
While Mr Richards walked through the neatly planted rows, he explained the process of cutting and training which will take nine weeks.
Holding the strands of vine which wandered away from the plant trunk, he detailed the year-round process of grape-growing.
A labour of love and also a retirement plan for the Richards, the vineyard was established on Mr Richard’s mother’s property in 1993.
Alongside the vineyard, the Richards retained a number of old cows in calf from Mr Richard’s mother’s Angus stud Glen Arm.
They held back a bull from the White Stone Widespread line and have since infused, via artificial insemination, their 34 head breeding herd with Edi Angus, Ardrossan Connection and Exceed and Excel genetics, topped up with the recent purchase of a Lawsons bull.
“We use AI to broaden genetics quickly, to try and get some growth and smaller-framed sires and smaller birth weight…a bigger animal probably eats more,” Mr Richards said.
Progeny are off-loaded in November and December at Hardwicks, Kyneton, after weaning at 10 months.
The herd shares land with the vineyard, which occupies a neat three hectare corner of their 65ha sloping property located in the Macedon Ranges.
Planting kicked off with two hectares of Chardonnay grapes, but due to a “happy accident”, according to Mr Richards, they grew the aromatic and spicy grape Gewurz Traminer, a German variety.
“This grows especially well here and it ripened a little bit sweeter than the Chardonnay so was obviously doing better.”
Following its success, the Richards propagated 500 vines of the Traminer to increase plantings and also added Pinot Noir grapes into the mix.
In 1998, while still living in Gippsland and commuting to Romsey on weekends, the Richards harvested their first grape crop.
*Extract. Full on-farm Stock & Land, August 27.
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