At Two Hands Wines, a key part of our journey is the ongoing development of our own estate vineyards.
A chance conversation provided Michael with the opportunity to consolidate Two Hands’ vineyard holdings on Seppeltsfield Road, taking us to 900m of frontage along the gateway to the Western Ranges of the Barossa Valley. The ‘Holy Grail’ vineyard, is a viticulturist’s dream: 15 acres of 18 year old Shiraz, adjoining our existing 70 acre block which was ready for planting in 2016. With its rich red-brown earth, strong clonal selection, and eastern sloping aspect.
With a vast array of soil depths and types through the site, careful consideration has been placed on selecting a diversified range of Shiraz clones to optimise viticultural development across the property. Through the depths of winter 2015, the Two Hands winery team were out with snips in hand, taking 40,000 cuttings from some of the great vineyards in the Barossa, Clare and Eden Valley regions. The clonal diversity creates interest on the palate once the vines reach maturity, designed to take us away from the commonplace 1654 clone that was so widely planted across South Australia in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
When you walk a great vineyard, you look and consider a vine’s architecture, the bunch configuration, you feel the soil and you immediately sense greatness. The Holy Grail vineyard is a viticulturist’s dream.
2016 is when the real fun began. Deep ripping of the vine rows to prepare the soils for planting, as well as irrigation and trellis installation. In September 2016, the mammoth task of vine planting began, with a grand total of over 60,000 vines planted over two years.
Our team embraces precision viticultural techniques. We employ ‘Massale Selection’ with new planting material. All 3 of our estate vineyards are cane pruned to reduce the risk of the fungus infection Eutypa Lata, and also assists the vines to survive our warm summers. Straw is spread under vines to keep the soil temperature and surface roots cool. Leading into harvest we spray all the northern sides of our canopies with Kaolin Clay to act as ‘sunburn cream’ for exposed bunches to ensure we get perfectly ripe fruit without burn or shrivel.
Our estate vineyards are pruned, trained and picked by hand to minimise tractor movements and soil compaction. In winter, cover crops are grown between the rows to promote soil vitality and our Scottish Highland cattle contribute to the 300 tonnes of organic compost we add back into our vineyards each year, so we can continue to support the natural balance within our vines.
The final block at Holy Grail was planted in 2017 by our Viticultural Manager, Travis Coombe and his team. The ‘Clos Block’ pays homage to the ancient tradition of Sur Echalas and the vines are planted 2 metres x 1.25 metres apart, which increased the vine density compared to a convention vineyard by 2.5 times. The Clos has 5807 vines across 3.6 acres. This form of propagation the ancient trellis system used in France’s venerated Northern Rhône Valley region, where Syrah vines are planted and trained to a stake. ‘Sur Echalas’ translates in English to ‘on a stake or pole’. The block has two specific Shiraz clones. First, the ‘Prouse’ clone from Eden Valley and the second was the famous ‘Kalimna 3C’ clone from the Barossa floor. Situated on a relatively steep slope, the vines are planted across the hill, to help with erosion control, allow ease of spraying and it is easier to prune. The échalas style must be managed by hand. From bud-burst, the vines are tied to the 1.8-metre stake, three times throughout the growing season until finally, the vines are joined together to the shape of a love heart.
We are proud to be custodians of the best viticultural land within the Western Ranges of the Barossa Valley and work tirelessly to grow the best fruit year in and year out, working with the seasons to produce incredible fruit. With additional fruit from our other estate vineyards Kraehe House Block in Marananga and Coach House Block in Greenock. The combination of our existing blocks and new developments provides a fascinating contrast and will provide an enormous source of fruit styles for the winemaking team to work with as the vines mature over the years ahead. Exciting times indeed.