THE WHISSON LAKE TERROIR
Whisson Lake is located on the slopes of Mount Carey in the Piccadilly Valley. It is a vertigo-inducing 15-acre hillside that rises more than 615m above sea level, which makes Whisson Lake South Australia's highest commercial vineyard.
Aside from the altitude the vineyard has a number of other unusual environmental factors.
The very steep slopes are difficult and dangerous to work on, but they fall to the East, and so have the advantage of facing the vines into the morning sun, and away from the burning afternoon sun. This is very important for Pinot Noir.
Mt Carey is at the head of a long gully which runs South and which funnels the cold southerlies up to the vineyard, and makes it even colder still.
The hill is a ridge that runs north-south and unusually for the Piccadilly Valley, sits not on sandstone or shale, but on schist and gneiss. Millennia ago the rock strata were tilted, which resulted in layers that the vines are able to send their roots down into chasing the water in mid summer.
The soils that have developed from these ancient rocks have good water holding capacity and are well drained but have very low nutrient levels. This hillside also has several small gullies in it, which results in a range of slightly different aspects altitudes and exposures to the southerlies.
During the late noughties we began to notice differences in colour, character and acid between certain parts of the vineyard that repeated in subsequent seasons. These differences are becoming more pronounced as the vines enter old age and are what we are now focussing on exploring.
LOWER ALTITUDE VINEYARD 525 - 560m
Warm north-east-facing slope, richer soil. This vineyard was previously an orchard and
was referred to by farmers as the "Garden". We've chosen this for the name of the
wine from these rows.
MIDDLE RANGE ATITUDE 540 - 565m
Easterly exposition but sheltered by trees to south. Old, very low-yielding, unirrigated
vines with exotic ripening potential.
HIGH ALTITUDE 560 - 615m
Exceptionally well drained and exposed to the best of the morning and early afternoon
sunlight. Pinot Noir from this part of the vineyard has fine but definite structure and
pure uplifted fruit.
Significant degree of easterly orientation in the slope. Very low yields from unirrigated
25-year-old Pinot Noir vines giving wine of concentration, structure, and the ability to
age for 15+ years. It is fruit from these areas of the vineyard that are the power house
and inimitable signature of Whisson Lake Pinot Noir.
Slightly South facing slope right behind the Whisson Lake house and always ripens
later in the Vintage. This is perfect for making white style Pinot Noir.
Typically cooler & steepest part of the vineyard, which produces perfect fruit for
making lean and very structured style of Pinot Noir.