SW growers turn wine into gold

30 Sep, 1999 08:22 AM
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OLD Kent River vineyard owners Mark and Debbie Noack, who have been entering wine at the Perth Royal Show wine competition for the past five years, have this year secured their first gold medal with an 1998 Old Kent River Shiraz. Debbie Noack said she was extremely happy about the gold award, which had eluded them since first entering their Pinot Noir vintage in 1994. Since first competing, Old Kent River has received two bronze and three silver medals for its pinot noirs and silver for its 1996 chardonnay. "We had won our division, but not gold," Mark said. He said that, for a small 10-hectare vineyard like theirs, the Perth Royal Show was the quickest way to get exposure for their wines. They are about to plant another 2ha with shiraz and pinot noir grapes. He said the soil and climate at the South West vineyard was particularly suited to growing pinot, and that the vineyard's pinot noir vines were the first to be planted in the area. "Pinot noir is our flagship," he said. Debbie said they had initially been selling grapes to other wineries for cash flow but were gradually reducing that and increasing their own wine production. "We have increased production by 20 per cent in the past three years," she said. Mark said their Diamontina was a blend of 70 per cent pinot noir and 30pc chardonnay and was considered the "driest champagne in Australia", with 15 cases recently sent to Hong Kong. Other markets include the UK and Canada. Another milestone for the Noacks was when their Old Kent River 1997 shiraz was chosen this year to be on the new Qantas first class and business class wine list, a formidable achievement, considering there were 560 contenders. Alkoomi winemaker Michael Staniford, who did his apprenticeship at Max Lakes' first Australian boutique winery in NSW, makes Old Kent River grapes into wine. He said Noack's success was in part due to their total control of the wine process, from growing the grapes to only using them in the wine. Mark said 75pc of the quality of wine came from the vineyard and 25pc from the winemaker, however, the vineyard had to perform 100pc to enable the winemaker to get maximum results. "He is the driving force behind the success," he said. Old Kent River, which produced its first vintage in 1991, is a diversified property, including sheep, cattle and marron. Mark said the vineyard was originally put down to stop the rising watertable and, for every bottle of Diamantina they sold, they would plant a tree. Other methods used to reduce salinity include fencing, diversion drains, retention of 182 hectares of natural bushland as well as planting more than 100 different species of trees, including bluegums. This year's wine entries exceeded last year's by 300 to hit a record of 2500, with good support from other states and New Zealand. ÿ

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