Robert Bond is the winemaker at RiverBank Estate. His youth was spent on his family's grape property at Robinvale on the Murray River not far from Mildura where he was born. Robert and his partner Lyn Amery are the owners of RiverBank. Robert studied Medicine at Melbourne University before settling in Western Australia in 1970.
In 1996 Robert commenced studying winemaking at Charles Sturt University as a distance education student completing a degree in Applied Science in Wine Making in 1999.
Lyn Amery was born in Guildford. After graduating as a registered nurse and theatre sister, she set off to travel. Arriving in London she was delighted to find that Aussie nurses were in great demand and that you could find your dream job and start work the next day.
Spring and autumn were spent working in London. Summer travelling Europe and winters skiing in Austria. This dream life lasted 5 years with a 9 month stopover in South Africa on the way home to WA.
In 1991 they purchased the land which is now RiverBank Estate; at that point, the block was an un-loved cow paddock. Over the next 5 years they established a vineyard that would ensure a self-sufficient supply of fruit, and a processing facility with all the necessary wine making equipment. The final stage (never say never!) of development, the Wine Tourism facility, opened in July 2002. This building also houses the new processing area.
Robert and Lyn have travelled extensively both in Australia and Western Europe looking at vineyard practices as well as winery design and operation. These experiences have led to modification of the winery layout and operation leading to improvement in the end product.
The 30 acre vineyard is situated on the Swan River flood plain. The soil is a rich clay loam with some patches more sandy. Earthworms are abundant in this rich soil.
White varieties planted include Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Semillon, while Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Sangiovese and Zinfandel are represented in red varieties.
The Swan Valley Climate is warm to hot with a mean January temperature of 23C. Average annual rainfall is 869mm, and average relative humidity in January is 40%. Whilst hot in summer, the cooling effects of coastal sea breezes reduce the risk of vine stress.
The vineyard is trellised with a vertical shoot positioned canopy and is suitable for night time mechanical harvesting. This method is also best for effective use of sunlight by the vines ensuring optimal ripening of fruit. In addition to this, the open canopy combined with the low humidity and absence of summer rain, ensures there are very low disease risks in the vineyard.
The viticultural policy in the vineyard is as near as possible 'organic', free from the use of pesticides, fungicides and other such chemicals. Legumes are planted as a winter cover crop between the vines.
Bud burst occurs in mid September, flowering in mid to late October and fruit set in mid to late November. Vintage generally starts in the last week of January with Verdelho and continues through to late March and early April with the harvest of red varieties and fruit for fortified styles. This dry, rain free period ensures that there is little risk of disease or fruit damage.
Almost all of our estate grown fruit is machine harvested, except for that which is used to make sparkling wine. This allows for harvesting to occur early in the morning with crushing and pressing finished by 10:00AM in most cases, thus reducing the risk of oxidation due to exposure to heat.
Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Verdelho, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese
RiverBank Estate, Jailbird, Padlock Paddock, Celebration
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