Cleveland Vineyard, Macedon Ranges
The Macedon ranges create a unique environment in Australian terms with climatic conditions similar to those of Rheims in the Champagne area of France yielding a mean January temperature of 17.5 degrees centigrade. The Ranges lie east-west creating orographic cloud formations due to prevailing north-south winds, giving lower sunshine hours than in surrounding regions.
At Cleveland the soils are podsolic with varying depths of grey sandy loam overlying ironstone gravel (buckshot) which are well drained during long wet winters. Three hectares of vineyard were planted in 1984 to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot in the lower northern paddock. The first vintage of was in 1988 and the remaining samples of Chardonnay still drink extraordinarily well to this date. Subsequently Cleveland proved too cold a site, and the lower rows of Cabernet Franc and the Merlot were grafted to Pinot Noir in the spring of 1989 at which time the southern paddock was planted to four rare Pinot Noir clones selected for their climate and soil type performance.
The production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is favoured here and despite difficulties in achieving ripeness in Cabernet Sauvignon Cab. Franc & Merlot some years produced extremely high quality fruit harvested in late May – early June, probably the latest harvest for this variety in Australia. The process of grafting over these vines to the varieties Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris commenced in 1997 and resulted in the vineyard being dedicated to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & a little Pinot Gris by the 1999 season. The weather conditions produced fruit which naturally suits the production of sparkling wines and this process was commenced during Vintage 1991.