Ravensworth began its journey in 2001 under the pretext that ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time’ a family affair these days with life-shackled-partners Bryan and Jocelyn Martin teaming up with the brother David Martin.
In their own words about their estate:
“Our vineyard is situated in the bosom of the Murrumbateman wine country, just a half hour north of this fine nation’s capital, Canberra, or Kanbra as we call it. Whilst technically not the centre of the universe, we think it’s a pretty neat place to grow grapes, hang out and freeze our butts off each year.
This vineyard is planted with a mixture of varieties based on fairly precise scientific, meteorological and market information of the day. Either that or we are making it up as we go. Shiraz is the main crop and we have four different clones planted at the moment: Best’s selection old vine, the generic but awesome 1127, R6WV…um..28? from Tahbilk and a new one, ENTAV 470 from France apparently. If you want to study shiraz clones, look to the AWRI website, there’s a shit load of information there.
Then we have a fair bit of Riesling planted, they are all Geisenheim clones – 110, 198,239. Sangiovese would be the next most planted variety, three clones MAT6, MAT 7, VCR23. And finally we have a mixture of whites that invariably go into the Grainery or Seven Months blends: Marsanne, roussanne, viognier, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. New varieties like Gamay and Nebbiolo are being planted over the next few years plus a couple of different varieties that might suit our elevated position here in Murrumbateman.
Our vineyard is managed under what could loosely be called natural forestry principles. Vines comes from forests right so they are not meant to be grown as a mono-culture as you’ll no doubt see in every ad or depiction of vineyards. Those super neat, rolling hills of perfectly herbicided vines and clipped grass is meant to emote in you a feeling like you could grab a picnic basket, a loved one and run downs those perfect rows. Sure, does to me as well but the vines themselves are used to clinging to life in the competitive arena of a forest. They are used to existing with many other species of plants and microbial life. They want soft grounds so they can reach out their root systems, interact via mycorrhizae with other plants. So they should look kinda scary, wild, diverse. That’s our plan, we ditched the big tractors a long time ago, use a cute little Italian tractor that minimises compaction but really we try and keep machinery out of the vines. We are currently encouraging lots of different plants that produce long tap roots to get established, find their place and hopefully become part of our forest, we really try and not use any chemicals, certainly nothing that can harm the natural state of the vineyard. It takes time to reverse years of doing what everyone else is doing but its having an effect already. Even after a very hot summer (2019) the vines exist in a calm place, the soil soft, fully covered with other life and you get a cooling effect walking among them.”
The wine that we grow ourselves are all now under a fab new label. Designed by Claudia at Cloudy Co Design and beautifully illustrated by Swindler & Swindler, they are a take on what we would have as a coat of arms if for some reason I was given a bespoke Baronetage – which I’m not ruling out, stranger things have happened.
Fancy, sure, happy, yep, these, and I’m quoting here, ‘Slightly grotesque representation of a coat of arms’, are visual depiction of how we see wine and food. Entwined, joyous, slightly nervy.
Our grape farm, or vineyard, is run under a policy of “Just leave it alone, things will work out’, much like our wine making philosophy, or lack thereof. More forestry than farming we encourage a great biodiversity of life in and on the earth. We don’t use chemicals, heavy farm equipment or cow horn’s full of rotted cow dung (Sorry BD folks, love your work but just don’t get this). We coax our earth to life with our own biochar, opening the soil with a yeoman’s plow and harrowing the crops rather than mowing. Basically getting the land back to what it was like before white people came and fucked it up. A broad range of cover crops are in use like clovers and maku for nitrogen, chicory for silca and aeration, its basically a large vegetable patch if you like. Sure it’s wild and won’t be used anytime soon in a glossy magazine, but it looks right to all of us living in it.
So all these wines are made from fruit grown our way, we think it the most sustainable way we can go about it.