All vineyard staff at Fox Creek take pride in producing some of the best wine grapes in the McLaren Vale Region. The grapes are always full of flavour and make fine wines.
Region And Climate
The McLaren Vale Region has a Mediterranean style climate with a strong maritime influence and is frost-free as we are 7km from the sea. Annual rainfall is 600-700mm falling mainly in winter. It is an ideal location for growing grapes, with little disease pressure.
Fox Creek has three company vineyards or approximately 60 hectares of vines. The vineyards are within a range of 5 kilometres, near the village of Willunga.
On our vineyards we grow most common grape varieties. The red varieties are our specialty, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The white varieties grown are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdelho and Semillon.
Fox Creek has always protected and enhanced the areas surrounding the vineyards with plantings of indigenous native trees. These provide habitat, food and shelter for native birds. Our focus is to be environmentally friendly and only use sustainable practices if possible. We strive to minimise the use of any chemical or other artificial agents.
There are many different soil types in our vineyards. About one half are black cracking clays full of organic matter which can develop deep cracks in summer. The rest are red sandy loams with rocks right through their profile. These soils are well drained and aerated. We manage the vineyard floor with a mix of cover cropping and permanent swards. Mulching the under-vine area is also carried out to improve the structure, fertility and microbiological diversity in soil. Cultivation is kept to a bare minimum to conserve soil structure.
Our vineyard layout and trellis systems have been designed to best suit the specific needs of individual varieties. Most of our Shiraz is grown on a trellis system called Scott-Henry, and the vines are trained to two cordons. The shoots from the top cordon are lifted by a set of foliage wires while the bottom cordon shoots are down-turned. This system helps control the natural vigour of Shiraz while allowing maximum sunlight penetration and ventilation of the canopy. Most white varieties are grown on a Vertically Shoot Positioned trellis. This gives excellent fruit exposure and ventilation to reduce disease pressure, but enough shading to prevent sunburn damage to the bunches.
With the use of weather stations and continuous monitoring of soil moisture, we have the ability to minimise stress in critical periods such as the time of flowering and to use controlled stress to dictate shoot size after fruitset. The outcome of this careful management is to make the most efficient use of limited underground water supplies.
We constantly monitor for pests and disease and use a minimal preventative spray program against moulds and mildews. No insecticides are used in our vineyards, preferring instead to use integrated pest management methods. For example, when required to combat Light Brown Apple Moth we use bacterial sprays or predatory insects as natural control methods. Our open canopies dramatically reduce any disease pressure.
All of our vineyards are hand pruned to control vigour. Hand pruning also controls cropping levels which are kept quite low, enabling us to produce small berries full of concentrated flavour and colour.
Native birds are encouraged as they are excellent at pest control and seem to deter introduced birds. The only bird species that cause damage at Fox Creek are Starlings. We use gas guns and electronic scaring devices intermittently to keep them at bay and share them with the surrounding vineyards. We do not require protection by netting.
Vintage time is always hectic. The winemakers sample the grapes regularly to determine the optimum picking time as judged by flavour development and baumé (sugar levels). Most blocks are picked mechanically as it enables us to work at optimum times and deliver the grapes promptly to the winery. For instance all white grapes are harvested in the cool of the night and processed in the early morning, thereby minimising oxidation of the fruit.
News from the Vineyards
Read about the progress of our vines as we prepare for Vintage 2014 in our Vineyard Manager, Jeremy Prater's 'News from the Vineyards'