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Wine Making

Vinification: All of our wines are made using artisan practices. Our grapes are picked and sorted by hand, are destemmed (not crushed) into open vats with some whole bunches added. We allow our wines to ferment with wild yeasts, and plunge the cap of our fermenting wines by hand. After 1-4 weeks on skins, the wines are pressed with a basket press, with the different batches put into high quality French Oak.

Maturation: We typically employ 30-50% new French Oak, split between Taransaud, whose mild flavours complement Pinot Noir, and other barrels like Francois Freres, which provide some extra complexity. The wines are allowed to sit on their lees through winter, and then are sulfured and racked in spring. We find our wines benefit from a longer time in barrel - we have settled between 14-22 months - which allows better integration of the oak and tannins. This is longer than most wines are kept in barrel (it adds extra cost), but seems appropriate for wines from our vineyard.

Bottling: Towards the end of the maturation period, we do a comprehensive barrel tasting and blending exercise, to figure out what combination of barrels is of sufficient quality to be bottled under the Maipenrai label. In a year like 2007 (which was dominated by drought) or 2011 (dominated by rain), no wine was selected for the Maipenrai label. These select wines are blended together, brought up to an acid and sulfur level necessary to be stable, and bottled with the vin-o-lok system, which features a glass cork. The remainder of the wines are blended together (and with any fruit sourced from other vineyards), and bottled as Amungula Creek wines using Stelvin screw tops. We have experimented with corks in the past, and we are absolutely convinced that our wines age properly under these modern closures, but in a way which is consistent from bottle to bottle, without cork taint, oxidisation, and other cork failures.

Pricing: As avid consumers of wine, we have adopted a philosophy of pricing wine according to its value - we want our wines always to be a "good deal". Pinot Noir is the most expensive wine to produce, because it, more than any other variety, demands low yields, and preferably much denser plant spacing as we have adopted. Unfortunately, because of the added expense in production, Pinots are often over priced for their quality, with cheaper bottles undrinkable.

Our Flagship wine is Maipenrai - produced from fruit grown on Maipenrai vineyard - it represents the pinnacle of Pinot Noir from our terroir. Meant for the special occaision, this wine is in very limited supply, and is only produced in those years and those barrels which produce a wine of sufficient quality to warrant the Maipenrai Label.

Amungula Creek, the creek that runs at the base of the Maipenrai property, is wine meant to be good value. Still a pure expression of Pinot Noir, these wines are great to share with friends and family any time you feel like a good drop at an affordable price.

I hope you will enjoy...

Brian Schmidt,
Owner, Winemaker, and Vigneron