Delatite is best known for its aromatic whites that have won many trophies and medals over the years, as well as receiving many great reviews. My parents Robert and Vivienne Ritchie first planted vines here in 1968, built the winery in 1982, and my sister Rosalind was the winemaker from 1982 until 2005. We’ve always understood that this site is special and our wines really are a product of the ‘terroir’ of the vineyard.Our ripening period over the last 30 years has been characterized by warm days and cold nights – late varieties such as Riesling and Cabernet sauvignon were picked between mid April and late May. However, that seems to have all changed since 2002 with ripening happening up to three or four weeks earlier.Viticulture The 24 hectare vineyard sits between 450 and 500m above sea level in the foothills of the Victorian Alps below Mt Buller. The slopes vary in gradient and outlook (from north-east to north-west) whilst the predominant soil type is red ironstone.We started following BioDynamic principles in 2003 and have used them exclusively since the spring of 2005. As fertilizers we use reactive rock phosphate, fish/kelp/fulvic acid for foliar trace elements, and BD 500 and manure concentrate 3-4 times per year. Our last use of herbicide occurred in September 2005 and this, allied to our long standing practice of mulching the vine rows, has led to marked improvements in our soil health and water holding capacity. As weeds in the vine rows were becoming a bit of a problem in early 2008 I purchased an Italian mower that mows/mulches both between the rows and between the vines.No systemic/curative fungicides are used – the only vine sprays are wettable sulphur, copper and Bacillus thuringiensis. Winemaking Our winemaking has changed much since Jane Donat joined us in time for the 2006 vintage and will again now that Andy Browning has replaced her for 2009. In 2008 we purchased a new 12t Vaslin Bucher press, Vaslin Bucher destemmer/crusher and a must chiller and this gave us a lot more options to really optimize flavour extraction from our grapes. Most of the fruit for our own label is hand harvested, with 80% from our own vineyards with the balance from our local area.WhitesThe fruit is crushed/pressed while cool and depending on the variety may be put through the must chiller, chilled and held on skins for a few hours in the press. It is cold settled, racked, and inoculated with yeast and ferments begun within two weeks of harvesting. Ferments will normally run for around three weeks at between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius before finishing.The Pinot gris, Riesling and Gewurztraminer will then have an extended period sitting on gross lees before being cleaned up for bottling. RedsThe grapes are crushed as the arrive and the must will cold soak for up to five days before being warmed up and allowed to ferment. We normally inoculate with yeast but at times the natural yeast has a chance as well! We try to do as much as possible in small tubs or tanks, plunging the cap the traditional way, but with the ability to cool the ferments down if they do get too hot. After ferment the wines are matured in small oak barriques and hogsheads for a period of 12-18 months depending upon the wine. Delatite and BioDynamics We started following Rudolf Steiner’s teachings on agriculture back in 2001 and have now been using some of the methods for over seven years. What’s clearly evident is that our soil structure has improved markedly and there are far more earthworms and tiny invertebrates evident close to the surface under the vines. The immeasurable benefits include better fruit structure and flavours and therefore improved wine quality. We follow moon cycles when putting out BD preps and in future we also do our best to follow moon phases for picking.In the beginning we used BD 500 (the cow horn preparation used on the soil) and manure concentrates concurrent with cutting out the use of insecticides and most fungicides.2003: stopped using compound fertilisers – replacing with rock phosphate, fish emulsions and kelp liquid/foliar fertilisers. 2005: eliminated all fungicides except for copper and sulphur, which have been used in agriculture for over 2000 years.2006: started making our own “teas” (for use on both the soil and the vines) and also making our own cow manure concentrates.2008: purchased a very effective, but costly Italian under-vine and mid-row slasher (our last use of herbicide occurred in the spring 2005). Additionally we extended our native revegetation areas (now around 4ha) to include Casuarina trees whose foliage will be used to make a brew of natural insecticide. In September we joined the Biological Farmers of Australia and started the process to become a certified Organic/Biodynamic producer. Although this will take three years before we’re officially fully certified (if all goes well!) our soils and vines have already reaped the benefits of the practices we’ve been following for 5 years.2009: started up our own BD compost heaps using stockpiles of some of the ingredients we’ve built up over the last two years. Making our first BD wines.My recommended bedside reading;Michael Pollan; “The Omnivore’s Dilemma;..” AND “In Defence of Food;…” And check out Max Allen’s website; www.redwhiteandgreen.com.au
Mansfield - in the foothills of the Victorian Alps between Lake Eildon and Mt Buller. Our area was the setting for the iconic 'Man from Snowy River' films whilst Neville Shute based 'The Far Country' on one of the outlying forestry settlements (written while he stayed with my grand parents!).
Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Shiraz, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo
Winery is rated Five Red Star's in James Halliday's Aust Wine Companion 2009-2012.
2010 Catherine Gewurztraminer just won Top Gold in Class and then Trophy for Best Medium Sweet Table Wine at 2011 International Sweet Wine Challenge.
At the 2011 Cowra Wine Show the 2010 Deadman's Hill Gewurztraminer won Top Gold Medal in Class and then Trophy for Best Dry White Blend or Other Varieties.
>> Upper Goulburn
Cellar Door Hours
Open 9am to 6pm, seven days a week.
26 High Street,Mansfield, Victoria 3722
Fresh Milawa bread on weekends
Wines by the Glass