Laurel Bank vineyard has a northerly aspect with sloping topography, steep enough to ensure that spring frosts are never a problem. The vineyard soils are a remarkable mixture of high pH, black cracking clay in the upper half with the lower section tending towards a sandy loam over sandstone floaters and orange clay. The best of this section has been planted with Bordeaux varieties and some of the pinot noir. The very difficult low nutrient remainder has been reserved for the normally toovigorous sauvignon blanc. The riesling and the rest of the pinot struggle away in the upper black clay section in a pH around 8.
As the vines have no excess vigour, vertical shoot positioning has been chosen as the most appropriate trellising arrangement. The vines are close-planted at 1.2 metres apart and 1.8 metres across the rows. Cane pruning is used with a low fruiting wire at 0.4 metres allowing an excellent leaf/fruit ratio for given trellis height.
With the exception of the riesling, our vines are now approaching twenty years of age with the Bordeaux varieties and most of the pinot noir at 22 years old. The vines are developing substantial growth systems and we are starting to see the benefits of greater carbohydrate reserves in our often dry summers.