The 40 hectare Greenstone Vineyard is situated north of the town of Heathcote at Colbinabbin, about a 90 minutes drive north of Melbourne. Twenty hectares are under vine.
The Greenstone vineyard is located about two-thirds of the way up the region, where temperatures are warmer, rainfall lower (500mm) and access to supplementary irrigation is close by. It is positioned on the ridge of old Cambrian soil that runs through the eastern side of the Mount Camel range. This narrow strip, running, north from Lancefield towards Rochester, is unique, not only to vine growing in Victoria but in Australia. The soils are the oldest known in the country, originating over 550 million years ago. Most soils of volcanic origin in Australia, such as those around Melbourne and Western Victoria, are young and highly acidic whereas these ancient Cambrian soils are near neutral in pH. The Mount Camel range itself is a result of a rift in the sea floor, from which molten rock arose, encapsulating limestone into the lava. The resulting soil is deep, red-coloured, mottled with lime and impart low vigour to the vines growing in it.
Our Heathcote vineyard shows little similarity to any others along the range, looking more at home in a European setting than in the Australian countryside. The vines enjoy a warm Mediterranean climate as the region avoids weather extremes such as snow and strong winds. The site was specifically designed to produce low crops with a vine density of 4,500 vines per hectare, over twice the average for the rest of the region.
Orientation of the vines at Greenstone is also unique with the rows running in an east/west orientation rather than the typical north/south direction. This ensures protection from the hot afternoon sun which is crucial during the ripening period. The resulting lower berry temperatures produce fruit of livelier and complex characters with brighter acidity.
The bedrock in our Heathcote vineyard was formed as a result of underwater volcanic activity between two fault lines on the ancient seabed half a billion years ago. The result is the Cambrian Greenstone strewn throughout our vineyard. It is a copper-infused basalt interspersed with complex minerals such as quartz and limestone from weathered sedimentary bedrock. Extreme weathering throughout the past 500 million years led to the formation of the iron rich, ‘terra rossa’ surface and subsoil.
It is this complex geology, together with the warm climate, that makes this site perfectly suitable to growing the Mediterranean varieties of Shiraz, Sangiovese, Mataro and Colorino.