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Vines are spur pruned, and shoot thinning and bunch removal are employed to keep yields below 1.5 tonnes to the acre. Australia is not Burgundy and some may argue that with appropriate canopy management higher yields can be obtained without loss of quality, but they are mistaken. Pinot really does seem to differ from other varieties in this respect, and if one is dedicated to producing the highest quality wine it doesn’t pay to be greedy. Nothing too much.

Shoot thinning also serves to maintain the open vine canopy which is an essential component of the vineyard’s disease prevention strategy. Rainy springs make Downy Mildew the principal risk. This is controlled by regular applications of copper and sulphur. Blister mites were a minor nuisance in the early years but have been completely controlled by sulphur spraying over winter, and, by luck or good judgement, even after the rainy 2010 – 11 season we escaped the bunch rots and Powdery Mildew that affected other vineyards in the area.


The only significant insect pests are European wasps, which are successfully controlled by a combination of simple traps and nocturnal nest-attacks. Birds however are a nightmare. Within a day of veraison, the skies darken with squadron after squadron of crows and currawongs. Taped alarm calls and noise generators drove the neighbours round the bend while the corvine Luftwaffe continued, unruffled, to raid at will. Full netting is the only strategy that has worked, and that requires to be backed up by a visible human presence, assisted by two gun-toting and extremely life-like scarecrows (Fatty and Fluffbat) kept constantly on the move.

But Mount Terrible isn’t just a source of frosts and bushfires and crows. It sends in season deer, kangaroos and wallabies to eat the vine leaves, bower birds to eat the grapes, cockatoos to eat the house, and, for their own dark purposes, snakes. But then again it is beautiful, and also the haunt of koalas and wedge-tailed eagles and the exquisite and extraordinary lyrebird which – not least for the fact that it doesn’t seem to like grapes – is honoured on our Mt Terrible label.