BANDICOOT RUN - LUCID DREAMS 2020
A lucid dream is one where you become aware that you are dreaming and can even gain some control over the dream characters, narrative or environment. A fitting name for this particular wine, which will change from year to year depending on the multitude of factors that make up a growing season and one we’ll use to test drive some new ideas…exerting some control but letting the season push the wine in the direction it feels. In 2020 our yields were small, tight bunches, high fruit concentration , so we made just a single barrel fermented rose composed of Pinot Noir and a touch of Viognier - destemmed, foot stomped and macerated for 3 hours, basket pressed to old oak and bottled 11 months later. Only 350 bottles produced.
ORIGIN Baw Baw Shire, West Gippsland
MAKER Bandicoot Run
GRAPES Pinot Noir, Viognier
We are Al and Adriana – organic grape growers and winemakers at Bandicoot Run, our little farm in West Gippsland, Victoria.
Bandicoot Run was born out of the desire to work more closely with nature and the ebb and flow of the seasons. Established in 2017 with the expansion of the half-acre vineyard on Al’s family farm in West Gippsland, we now farm 7 acres of vines, organically and with a focus on biodiversity and building healthy soil microbiology.
The property was purchased in the early 90’s – part of a subdivided dairy farm and bare of much diversity of life except for a handful of gnarly old eucalypts in the back paddocks. This quickly changed with thousands of endemic species established across the property over the next couple of decades, creating shelter belts and habitat for bird and animal life which returned to the property soon after and continue to do so in increasing numbers each year.
Not all of the plants were natives however – such as the fruit tree orchards or the few short rows of Syrah that were planted by Al’s old man in 2005 and then several more rows of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the years following.
We became interested in what was happening in the vineyard while we were studying architecture from 2010-2015, spending our summers amongst the vines and getting our mates down to help out with the modest harvest each year. After a couple years working in architecture though, we decided that we wanted to make a lifestyle change that supported our values and pursue organic farming and winemaking. A few years working in wineries and vineyards on the Mornington Peninsula later, and the question was inevitably posed: would it be possible to expand our little vineyard?
It didn’t take much convincing but that’s probably because we didn’t have the foresight to see the challenges in establishing 6 acres of vines organically and with little outside help. Over the winter of 2017 we planned out the new blocks, prepared the soil, put in over 1000 vineyard posts, ran kilometers of wire and finally planted 7000 new vines with the help of our beautiful friends and family. And we now know that was the easy part…
The majority of the new vineyard is planted out to Pinot Noir with the remainder made up of Chardonnay, Syrah, Viognier and Tempranillo. We live and work on site, with the winery shed and house all within meters of the vineyard and integrated with the orchards, veggie gardens and native vegetation plantings which extend like fingers between the vineyard blocks. These plantings create connections for our indigenous species, especially our population of endangered Southern Brown Bandicoots, which have visibly thrived since establishing the vineyard.
We also share the property with our animals, most importantly our dog “San” but also our breeding herd of Hereford cows, chickens, ducks and several beehives. We’re also planning to get some sheep into the vineyard in the future to help keep the grass down and contribute to the system.
We had decided from the beginning that we wanted to farm our site organically and in the most regenerative way possible, as this is a core belief and something important to our world view. This amounts to a lot of meticulous (and often backbreaking) manual work in the vineyard but we feel that if we put care and love in, it will be reciprocated. And so far it has, with our first wine release (2020) being full of life and expression.
Every aspect of the farming of the site is completed by us, with attention to detail being extremely important. Being a two person band means that days spent outside the vineyard are a rarity, but it also means that we have come to intimately know and understand our vines and we are continuing to learn about our site each and every day.
This philosophy also extends to the winemaking, with fruit being hand picked in the cool of the morning, processed without additives, left to undergo natural fermentation and finally bottled by hand on site, unfined and unfiltered with only a small amount of sulfur.