Dionysus Winery and vineyard are nestled in the rolling hills east of the village of Murrumbateman in the Canberra District. The vineyard is planted in fertile granite based volcanic soils. The climate of this area is similar to Canberra with a rainfall of around 600mm per year and cool autumns that contribute the quality of the wines produced in this area.
The vineyard uses minimal chemicals and can look a bit messy at times! The limited use of chemicals ensures that the soil has plenty of protection from the harsh sun in summer (via weeds) and moisture remains in the ground. By lifting the canes in summer to expose the fruit, each vine gets a nice hit of sunlight - but not enough to get sunburnt. Michael carefully thins the Pinot Noir to ensure that the nutrients travelling through the vines go to ripen a smaller number of bunches and create better fruit flavour intensity.
The first planting at Dionysus Winery was in October 1998, when 1.5 acres each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz were planted. These vines were devastated by the October 1998 frost, however almost all recovered and grew up to the cordon wire in the first season. Chardonnay (1.5 acres), Sauvignon Blanc (1 acre) and Merlot (1 acre) were planted in 1999. Pinot Noir (1 acre) and Riesling (1.5 acres) were planted in 2000 and produced their first crop in 2004. Since the original planting Michael has added Gamay, Tempranillo and Viognier to the offerings.
The fruit is picked with a combination of mechanical harvesting and hand picking. The sparkling wine, pinot, chardonnay and Riesling are handpicked to ensure only the best bunches are used in the winery.
This year we are planning more changes to the vineyard to try and find the best combination of varieties for our Cellar Door. Some of our Pinot Noir block is being grafted to the Bests Clone of Shiraz, which is arguably the best performing clone of Shiraz in the District. It will take about two years for these vines to start producing.