Wooing Tree is a family owned single vineyard site, situated in the heart of Central Otago next to the town of Cromwell and opposite the "Big Fruit Sculpture". The location gives a perfect mix of various sub-regional climates and optimum heat degree-days.
When trying to find vineyard land we were looking for the typical north-facing slope to give less frost risk and greater exposure to the sun, however we ended up buying a relatively flat vineyard. So far we have not had any problem ripening the grapes, but we do have to frost fight during the growing season.
A Bit of History
In 2001 we put in an offer for the land and purchased it in 2002. We took on the services of viticulturalist Robin Dicey to help set-up the vineyard and manage it in the development stages. This enabled us to stay overseas and continue to pay the bills remotely. Approximately 44,000 vines were planted in 2002. The 26 ha single vineyard site has 16 ha planted in mainly Pinot Noir of multiple rootstocks and the following premium clones, 5, 6, 115, 667, 777 to give variety, complexity and risk minimisation. The vines are all grafted on American rootstock to prevent phylloxera problems.
The vines are planted at 2666 vine/ha on VSP trellis system (Vertical Shoot Positioning). We use 1 cordon wire and 2 pairs of canopy wires, which are lifted as required. The vines are spur pruned (usually at 2 buds per shoot) and shoot thinned, leaf plucked, bunch thinned and green harvested all by hand during the season.
We have a computer controlled irrigation/fertigation system, which is monitored via Aquaflex data loggers to keep an eye on soil moisture and temperature levels.
Birds are often a problem leading up to harvest and we have to net the rows to help keep the birds away.
This was our first vintage from our own grapes and vineyard, so everything was new to us. We were aiming for a small yield of about 1.5 tonnes per hectare for the vines first harvest. Nature came to the party with a very cold and wet period over flowering, this resulted in a poor fruit set and low yields region wide. The poor flowering left very small bunches and berries and irregular ripening. This resulted in lots of work in the vineyard to reduce and green bunches, but what was left were of high skin to pulp ratio giving wine with great colour and concentration. The harvest went well and started 21st April.
Our second vintage, the total opposite to the first, the flowering and fruit set was perfect, the ideal 2 bunches per shoot, but the bunches were large and with lots of berries. The weathers was very good, nice and warm and dry, The harvest started 24th March nearly a month earlier than the previous year. The early harvest enabled the grapes to ripen to perfection, the only problems we had was trying to reduce the crop levels by green harvesting and bunch thinning.
We had a very cool December, which resulted in a drawn out flowering and poor fruit set. This lead to a reduced crop and the opposite to 2006. A small yield often results in great quality, however you do have to ripen the fruit. The season was also very late early on, but we had a very settled and warm end of Summer leading up to harvest, which enabled the fruit to ripen up nicely and the fruit picked looked superb.