The belief is shared that wine is made in the vineyard. So, the journey began with starting a vineyard. The first step was taken in 1994, when the Mt Anakie site, in the Moorabool Valley, was purchased. The vineyard is located on the Southern slope of Mt Anakie, the main cone of the ‘The Anakies’ volcanic complex, which last had an eruption approximately 1.5 million years ago. The vines are sitting 220 to 280 meters above sea level on the steeply angled, north-westerly aspect.
The first vines were planted in 1996, with 6 acres to Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1997/98 another 27 acres were planted making a total of 7 varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Marsanne). In 2010 the neighboring property was purchased with a further 8 acres of vines consisting of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Mt Anakie vineyard now has a total of 41 acres of vines, 7 varietals, and 11 clones split across 13 blocks.
• Micro-climate: The area has a continental climate and low rainfall, being in the rain shadow of the Brisbane Ranges. Our position exposes us to westerly winds and extended sunshine, this provides prolonged ripening conditions, allowing gradual flavor development in the grapes. Prudent drip irrigation is used to ensure vine health in exceptionally dry years and to assist in consistent ripening.
• Soil: Sitting on the slope of a volcanic scoria cone there is an abundance of molten rock formations with cores of basalt, olivine, and clay with granitic rock underlying the cones. The vineyard has two primary soil types. The highest altitude blocks have rich black self-mulching volcanic soil that transitions to a lighter sandy grey alluvial soil on a granitic sand base at the lower end. These soil conditions are rich in nutrients and drain well, requiring the vines to grow deep root systems in search of water, which is conducive to producing low yield and flavorful fruit.
• History: The Moorabool Valley is one of the first wine-growing regions in Australia, dating back to the 1840s when Swiss immigrants planted some of Victoria’s first vines. The region was devastated in the late 1870s as the Phylloxera disease ravaged the vines. The Valley’s renaissance began in the 1960s as it was identified for its unique micro-climate and soil structure. Providing the foundation to produce rich and high-quality low yield fruit resulting in exceptional cool-climate wines.
• Family: The del Rio family migrated from Spain in 1962 to the Geelong region. The region that provided the family with new opportunities seemed fitting to build the family’s new journey in building a legacy as a great wine producer.
The vines are hand pruned and trained; they are cane pruned, with vertical shoot positioning, and then shoot removal in spring to facilitate air and sunlight exposure within the canopy. Finally, the fruit is all handpicked and processed.
The combination of the terroir and vine care provides the ideal environment to produce rich, high-quality, and intense low yield fruit reflecting the true varietal character of the del Rio’s Estate in the Moorabool Valley.
Additionally, premium grapes are sourced from childhood friend Marco Martinelli in the King Valley, who provides us with our Tempranillo and Sangiovese fruit.