Chosen for its unique location we converted a sheep farm to world class vineyard.
Pics: Early days when the land was still a sheep farm. (Hence the FLYING SHEEP label).
Pics: Here you can see the soak away pipes and how we set the posts for the first of the vines
Inland and at a slightly higher altitude, the vineyard enjoys cooler nights and warm days which make it ideal for growing the superb grapes that Osawa is known for.
To avoid over use of the limited ground water supply we decided to build a large reservoir. This also had the added benefit of allowing to avoid using helicopter of wine turbines to prevent frost that would otherwise would damage the fruit.
Pics: Pumps and pipes for reservoir
Building the reservoir was a major undertaking that took 3 months to build. It now holds up to 35million litres of water and is a key element in the protection our rivers and ground water supply. Today the reservoir is home to an abundance of wildlife including ducks, occasional swans and herons that hunt the little frogs that live there.
Engineers installing the pumps that support our computer controlled intelligent irrigation and frost protection system. A state of the art vineyard needs to carefully manage its water supply. Using a sophisticated system of drains and pumps, a third of all the water we use for irrigation is later reclaimed and put back into the reservoir. On wet days we pump water from the vineyard to add to the reservoir, this also avoids the roots getting too wet.
Over 100,000 vines were planted manually. There were many sore backs by the time this job had been completed. We started with the Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc and finished with the Gewurztraminer. A few years later and the vineyard is looking really good. It requires lots of attention but our three full time vineyard workers are doing the job very well and enjoy what they achieve every year. Birds love our grapes, but they also damage quite a lot if we let them enjoy all of them, so we net the vines in February when the grapes sweeten.
It takes 1kg of grapes to make a boottle of wine. Each bunch of grapes is around 100g. Vines will often carry up to 40 bunches of grapes and so this equates to around 3 bottles of wine. Our top wines are made from vines that produce just 15 to 20 bunches of grapes. The exclusive "Winemakers Collection" wines are from vines that are allowed to grow just up to 10 bunches of grapes. This means the plants put all the goodness into less grapes which creates the tastiest fruit for our best wines.
Pics: Most of our grapes are still hand harvested. Harvest time is a time of celebration and we all look forward to this time of year.
We harvest nearly 300 tonnes of grapes and employ over 100 casual staff at harvest time. This is a hugely rewarding time of year as we get to see the quality and quantity we have grown. Getting the timing just right is essential; we ideally want a long dry spell before harvest as the fruits will be juicy and full of concentrated flavour. Some grapes are picked by hand while others are gathered using a machine. Hand harvesting is gentler and leads to a better tasting wine.