Sailor Seek Horse
lutruwita - Cradoc, Huon Valley, Tasmania
On what feels like the end of the earth (and isn’t actually that far) sits Sailor Seeks Horse vineyard. This is a site that was pretty much left for dead, abandoned by the owners who had planted it in 2005. When Gilli and Paul Lipscombe found it, a few blackberry bushes were set amongst a floundering 6.5ha of pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, sangiovese, and nebbiolo.
“The greatest viticultural challenge I have ever seen” was the assessment of the viticultural liaison officer who surveyed it for the Lipscombes (after they had already purchased it). Luckily he followed it up with, “if it was anywhere else you wouldn’t bother, but this site is definitely worth it.”
And “worth it” the vineyard has proven to be. After some replanting, the vineyard is now composed of 2 hectares of chardonnay (Dijon clones 277, 76, 95 and 96), with the rest of the vineyard made up of the pinot noir clones 114, 115, MV6, 777, 2051 (D5V12) and 8048 (D2V6). A northeast facing slope, frost free(ish) and well drained sandy-loam soil over clay. Everything is planted at a density of 4000 vines/ha, which is the right balance for the soil capacity. 700mm or so of average annual rainfall provides enough to farm without irrigation. And, without any synthetic inputs.
Gilli and Paul met in London in 2005, both working in fields other than wine. They made the hasty decision that they wanted to upend their lives and plant a vineyard together. The next steps, though, were anything but hasty, as the two put in the hard yards to gain the experience necessary to realize their dream.
They worked vintages abroad to get their feet wet then completed winemaking and viticultural degrees in Western Australia, before travelling the world to gain more experience and expertise. Eventually, the two homed in on Tasmania, and specifically Huon Valley, as their would-be home, recognizing the potential for world-class pinot noir and chardonnay. Say the duo of their journey: “If you love what you do and have a plan, then it doesn’t matter what the challenges are, they are surmountable and all-the-more rewarding.”
What Jane and Jon Have to Say…
“To say these are some of the finest pinot noirs and chardonnays made in Australia is an understatement…they are really some of the best examples of those grapes anywhere in the world.These wines teem with the energy of Gilli and Paul and of the healthy, pristine vineyard they have created. The labor of love here is as profound as the results.”
“A young, dynamic Tasmanian couple who have aced their grape growing and now shifted attention to winemaking…What a stellar release. Run, don’t walk. Has pure class written all over it.”
– Mike Bennie