Old Vine Expressions
Château Tanunda was established in 1890 and is the site of some of the first vines planted in the Barossa in the 1840s as well as one of the Valley’s first wineries from the Fiedler family in 1848.
The ‘Old Vine Expression’ series is all about showcasing the significant history and special wine characteristics and of a selection of old vine vineyards for which the Barossa valley is world-famous. The Barossa Old Vines Charter was instituted to register vineyards by age, so those older vines could be preserved, retained and promoted.
Old vines have stood the test of time. They reflect vineyard sites and vine material which are unique to the wine world. They have survived world depressions, droughts, the vine pull schemes of the 1980s and their consistent outstanding fruit quality have meant they have been kept and maintained by the workers of their land. While vineyards in Europe and America have been subject to the ravages of the phylloxera bug, these vines stand on their original roots and provide the basis of outstanding wines that are world-renowned.
The biblical Arc of Australian viticulture. These vineyards date back older than 1867, back to pioneering beginnings of the Australian wine industry. They mark the very beginning of the Barossa valley when the first vines were being planted on the flats below Chateau Tanunda. Trial and error was used to find out which of the many varieties and cuttings brought from Europe would suit the new environment. There are less than 30 hectares of these Ancestor vines in the Barossa.
The best vineyards from this time provided the genetic clones of varieties, which would go on to form the Australian vineyards of the future. The surviving vineyards from this time are peerless throughout the world, sites which have proven over time to be amongst the best in the world.
Dating back pre-1917, these vines were planted around the time of the establishment of Chateau Tanunda itself. They are from a time before the two world wars, before the Great Depression, and many planted as a response to worldwide demand after the Phylloxera outbreak in France. This was a pre-mechanized and pre-irrigation era where the site selection was everything. The vines are dry-grown as bush vines with only the best soils, vine material and sites surviving the first years, and only the absolute pinnacle surviving the 100 years thereafter.
They are survivors that produce tiny yields of high-quality fruit, grown with minimal vineyard intervention and peerless in most of the wine world.
These vines reach back to planting before 1966. It was a post-war era of great ingenuity in Australian winemaking with irrigation only just coming into use. Vineyards planted in this era were developed with wider rows for machine access, and some with trellising for more control in canopy management and vine training. The vineyards were planted on original roots with less variation in grape varieties and using clones which had already proven to suit the Australian environment and produce healthy fruit.
With little irrigation, site selection played a large role in the health of the vines, with great care taken to plant sites with ideal water access and soil types and microclimates.