Eden Valley, Australia
See Pewsey Vale wines we sell
High in the hills surrounding the Barossa Valley lies Pewsey Vale, Eden Valley's first vineyard. Its founder, Englishman Joseph Gilbert, arrived in South Australia after seeing an advertisement in the London Times announcing the vessel, The Buckinghamshire's imminent departure for the colony. Land was up for grabs and Joseph wasted no time grabbing it, just four months after his arrival - 15,000 acres of rugged high country in the then-wild and remote Barossa ranges, some 40 miles from Adelaide.
By 1841, just two years after his arrival, Joseph, the 38 year old son of a well-heeled English landowner, had built a fine homestead and planted Pewsey Vale's first grapevines. The vines were of a table grape variety, but an idea was starting to take shape.
In 1847 Joseph planted a one-acre vineyard, establishing Eden Valley's pioneer vineyard and one of Australia's first high altitude, cool climate vineyards. At the same time, several hundred feet below, Johann Gramp was planting the Barossa Valley's first commercial vineyard.
The pioneering Joseph Gilbert tried many different grape varieties at Pewsey Vale, later distributing cuttings to others in surrounding areas. His experimental approach to viticulture and winemaking helped lay the foundations for the wine industry that would become so important to the region.
During the 1920s, Pewsey Vale succumbed to the fate of so many of Australia's early vineyards, falling into disuse as a result of the Great Depression. The vineyard's potential was rediscovered at a time when only the history books recorded the existence of the original vineyards.
In 1961, Pewsey Vale's then-owner, Geoffrey Angas Parsons, became aware that his property had once incorporated the region's earliest vineyard and he wasted no time in paying a visit to his good friend Wyndham Hill Smith of Yalumba with a proposal to restore the Pewsey Vale vineyard.
Parson's proposal was timely indeed, coming at a time when several of the larger, more innovative wine companies were considering potential vineyard sites with cooler ripening conditions than could be found on the Barossa Valley floor. Wyndham Hill Smith, convinced of the potential of the area, needed no further persuading and work at Pewsey Vale began soon after. Riesling was planted as a matter of course - initially 56 hectares planted in contoured rows.
Winemaker Louisa Rose, originally from the Yarra Valley and a cool climate enthusiast, has been making the Pewsey Vale wines since 1996. Working closely with Vineyard Manager Darrell Kruger, who has been associated with Pewsey Vale for more than 20 years, Louisa is a firm adherent to the philosophy that 'wine is made in the vineyard' - particularly Riesling which, she says, has a unique relationship with the site.
"Often winemakers have to blend across different vineyards to make complete and balanced wines, but this is not the case at Pewsey," says Louisa. "The old and established vines, planted in 1961 and 1962, naturally set a low crop, and their deep established root systems are able to achieve good ripeness and concentrated flavours. Monitoring flavour development and timing of harvest are the keys to Pewsey Vale winemaking."
"One of the wonderful things about Riesling is the diversity of flavours and wine styles it can make. From austere citrus to fragrant and fruity characters. From light, elegant, fresh young wines right through to fuller-bodied richer dry styles. The style is very reflective of the vineyard site - that's what makes Pewsey Vale exceptional."
Named 1999 Barossa Winemaker of the Year and nominated for the 2000 Qantas/Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year Award, Louisa Rose is one of Australia's most acclaimed up-and-coming young winemakers.
With an altitude between 485 metres and 500 metres, Pewsey Vale sits 250 metres above the Barossa Valley floor. The cooler temperatures at this height encourage a longer ripening period, essential for producing superior quality grapes with exceptional flavour and character - hallmarks of Pewsey Vale wines. Block to block variation enables winemakers to select from separate parcels of fruit to tailor wines to the Pewsey Vale style, ensuring consistency from vintage to vintage.
Lean and hungry soils which limit the vigour of the vines, the high altitude and the vineyard's specific micro-climate have necessitated the adoption of specialised viticultural management. Ensuring a natural balance is of paramount importance and is reflected in every aspect of the vineyard's management.
Soils at Pewsey Vale are shallow light sandy loams over light to medium clay. Riesling grows well in bony soils with some clay subsoil, as found throughout much of Eden Valley. Pewsey Vale has 25 hectares of Riesling planted, mainly on traditional single wire trellis. The low fertility of the soil keeps vigour and yield down and the canopy open, making it easier to deal with the susceptibility of Riesling to Botrytis as the fruit is well-exposed.
The Pewsey Vale Clone was planted in Eden Valley in the 1800's and traces back to some of the original vine cuttings brought into Australia by James Busby. Any new plantings at Pewsey Vale are propagated from the original vines.