Voyager Estate
21 June 2023 | Voyager Estate


Our far-flung west coast wine paradise has a rich history. For over 50,000 years, the Wadandi Aboriginal people have walked this ancient land.

The Margaret River region first saw European settlement in the 1830s and evolved from a pioneer ‘outstation’ to forestry, dairy and alternative lifestylers who enjoyed the unique coast and its surfing.

The first vines were planted in the region in the late 1960s, following research by agronomist Dr John Gladstones, who determined the viticultural suitability of the area. Voyager Estate was among the founding wineries whose plantings signalled the beginnings of the wine industry in the region – an industry that would become a big player on the world stage.

Voyager’s first vineyards were planted in 1978 and this included V9 or ‘Old Block’ as it is affectionately known. This is the vineyard located on the right as you drive in our front gates. These soils have always held the perfect amount of moisture and gravel loam for growing exceptional Cabernet, and today, this block is still producing some of the best fruit on the property. However, we can’t ignore that it’s in slow decline, as happens naturally to all vines when they’ve been living for over four decades!

So, how do we preserve the legacy of our oldest premium vineyard, so that we can continue to grow, make and share our best Cabernet for generations to come? The answer lies in some viticultural ingenuity from the vineyard team…and the cult 80s movie blockbuster, Top Gun.

For the last 40 years, our team have built up an extensive knowledge of the soil and climate in Stevens Valley through organic farming practices in the vineyard and winery. This has allowed them to explore the possibility of growing a new generation of V9 Cabernet vines to carry our legacy forward.

Dubbed the Heritage Vine Project, this process involved establishing a source block of second-generation vines for future propagation material and took many years of collecting, trialling and growing.

The process started in 2015. Over two years of seasonal culling, seven individual vines were eventually selected from the existing V9 Block based on several factors including vigour, yield, berry size and vine architecture. The team were looking for the ‘best of the best’ to become mother vines for their new generation of Cabernet – an approach that came to be known as the ‘Top Gun’ philosophy. Our Technical Viticulturist, Alex Miller, likened it to “trying to fill a job vacancy from a talented field of thousands of candidates – a daunting task!”

The final test was the most important – taste. This involved hand-harvesting the grape bunches from the short-listed vines and making mini batches of wine from each of them. The wines were tasted blind by sharp palates from across the business, and interestingly, there was consensus among the tasters which vines were the most promising.

After a series of very rigorous tests over several years, three vines made the cut. These were aptly named Maverick, Goose and Slider. Healthy canes were selected from these vines to become potted cuttings and nurtured in the nursery, which is a fascinating process. The canes are buried upside down in a damp sandpit. This ‘fools’ the bottom buds of each cutting into growing roots. After a few months they are dug up and planted into pots the right way up, with the roots in the soil and the buds exposed to sunshine grow viable shoots.

A year after growing the new generation vines in pots, we planted our three new clones alongside the original Old Block (on the same nutritious gravelly loam soil as the mother vines) and named it V9Young. We deep ripped the site to help the new vines explore the soil profile, then seeded a complex cover crop of grasses, clover, peas and daikon, and installed railway iron posts.

It's been a long, hands-on process, but seven years of hard work, dedication and commitment to organics means we now have enough vine material from the Mums to plant out the full V9Young Block (that’s 30 rows and 2600 vines!).

Propagating this young vineyard ourselves instead of buying vine material from a nursery has many advantages, including the ability to ensure the process is fully certified organic and like any nursery of babies, a watchful eye. No cases of mistaken identity here!

The team have now harvested several crops of fruit from V9Young, and Chief Winemaker Tim Shand says the results are very exciting.

“We talk a lot about attention to detail and the incremental nature of things in the vineyard. It was really inspiring this year to see the tangible results of this very detailed work – where vine selection and the DNA of an outstanding site are reflected in the fruit and the calibre of the wine made. Our V9Young block is rapidly emulating its parent block, which is a testament to our exceptional vineyard team.”

So, what does the future hold? With the wine produced from this new Cabernet block looking so promising, even from such young vines, we are very excited to see how it evolves. The hope is that with time, our next generation fruit and the three new clones will become part of the ultimate expression of our Stevens Valley soils, the MJW Cabernet. Perhaps it will even become the next step in isolating one true ‘Voyager Estate clone’ originating right here in Margaret River.

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Time Posted: 21/06/2023 at 3:15 PM Permalink to THE FUTURE OF CABERNET Permalink
Voyager Estate
14 June 2023 | Voyager Estate


Winter is here, and whilst the vines may be hibernating, our vineyard team are hard at work, replenishing the land after a busy growing season.

The cooler months following harvest are vitally important, both to lay the foundation for new growth and to build life back into our soils, so they remain nutrient-rich and healthy for generations to come.

During this time, the team give back to the land in many ways. Creating our own organic compost involves utilising waste from the winery, gardens and vineyard, and baking it to perfection, turning the material into big mounds of nutrient-rich dirt to put back on the vineyard floor. It’s a symbiotic relationship, whereby the compost feeds the soil organisms, keeping the complex network of roots underneath the ground healthy and happy.

Another important activity post-harvest is the seeding of cover crops. Being a certified organic vineyard means we can’t use herbicides to control the weed population, so the team plant smaller, more beneficial crops to hopefully outcompete the weeds and add diversity to the vineyard floor.

Cover crops are the organic way to create ‘green manure’ – a mix of spring green growth containing nitrogen, carbon and micronutrients, that over time decomposes and feeds back into the mid-rows of the vines. The presence of cover crops also creates precious biodiversity in the vineyard, encouraging more habitats for beneficial bugs and birdlife.

At this time of year, you’ll often see our flock of resident lawnmowers loose in the vines, keeping the weeds at bay. As they wander over the vineyard floor, they also help bury the seed of the cover crops into the earth with their hooves. Not to mention, their droppings provide free fertiliser! It’s a much gentler way to nurture our fragile soils during the wet winter months, rather than using heavy machinery.

As well as our sheep, we also have our own family of ducks on the Estate. Currently they are eating up all the snails in the vineyards surrounding their enclosure. They are so good at it; no other forms of snail control are needed.

Following a successful breeding season (which saw several team members hatching and rearing the babies in their own backyards!) the flock size is now sitting at between 50 and 60 ducks, with plans for another round of breeding this spring. Amazingly, the ducks reared by our Vineyard Manager Glen Ryan (aka ‘Duck Dad’) still know him and follow him around, even after being reintroduced into the larger population! Once the mob is large enough, the team will deploy their snail-eating skills on other areas of the property.

All this vineyard care is a precursor to pruning, which usually happens from July to September, once the vines have gone into their ‘deep sleep’. As the weather grows colder and more unpredictable, our crew of pruners don their wet weather gear, often storm watching and dodging the occasional hail event, to complete the work.

Two techniques are used. Spur pruning uses one or two pairs of existing permanent, old wood canes (cordons). Each year, any new shoots that have lignified (turned rigid or woody) along the permanent cordon are cut back to just two small buds on each cane, known as spurs.

Cane pruning selects two to four young, lignified canes from the previous season and trains them along a trellis wire. The other canes are removed, and new shoots sprout from the buds on the selected canes in spring.

Whichever technique is chosen largely depends on the grape variety, vine strength and structure, and the end status of the fruit the team are trying to achieve. This crucial and labour-intensive work is what sets up the skeleton of the vine for next year’s harvest.

Even though the colder weather can be challenging at times, crisp winter temperatures help the vines achieve full dormancy, resulting in a cleaner and more even budburst. An even budburst leads to better canopy growth and ultimately, fruit yield come springtime!

Time Posted: 14/06/2023 at 3:21 PM Permalink to WINTER WORK Permalink
Voyager Estate
25 May 2023 | Voyager Estate


In celebration of International Chardonnay Day on 25th May, Tim Shand shares a few musings on Margaret River's renowned white grape – from what makes it cellar-worthy, to the ideal drinking temperature...

You could argue it’s the ‘era of Chardonnay’ right now – do you agree?

Yes! I think it’s fair to say that Chardonnay has graduated to the same perception of classiness we have with red wines. The interesting thing is what’s going on internationally. People are saying that Margaret River Chardonnay is as good as any Chardonnay in the world. And it’s not just us in Australia, who’ve always celebrated one of their own. This is the likes of Jancis Robinson saying, ‘Hang on, I’ve just done a Burgundy tasting and a Margaret River tasting, and whilst stylistically different quality-wise they’re on the same level.'

What do you love about Chardonnay?

One great thing about Chardonnay is its flexibility to match with so many different foods! There are so many different expressions, depending on the vintage, style and where it’s from. These can range from quite fragile, light-bodied versions, right through to the more intense and powerful. It can pair with robust roast turkey or even duck.

How did the ’21, ’22 and ’23 vintages in Margaret River differ when it comes to Chardonnay?

’22 was defined by some warm days around Christmas. There were a couple of heat spikes. Vines basically love it up until about 32 degrees, then they go into the zone where they’re not really thinking about ripening fruit and just trying to survive! That’s where good vineyard management comes into play – whether it’s well-managed watering or resilience from organics. Better soil resilience, deeper root systems and well-balanced crops all help to take the edge off those stressors. A warmer vintage can be really rewarding because you get heaps of flavour in the Chardonnay. ’23 never got those heat spikes. It was dry, not too warm and not too cold, a perfect 28 degrees right up until harvest. By comparison, ’21 was more of a cool, savoury and restrained vintage, where the flavours are not as ripe, but the Chardonnays are super elegant and complex.

Why is it challenging making Chardonnay in the Stevens Valley in particular?

We’re further south and obviously the further south you go, the cooler it gets. We catch more of the rain hitting the southern cape. We’re hanging out that week or two longer in the dodgy time where the season turns, searching for that ripeness they get in other areas, but with more potential for things to go awry! I’d say in Margaret River things are quite delineated. There’s always this feeling that eats away at us…like when will the season turn? And then it’s a question of where you sit at that point. Are you ripe, or aren’t you? The challenge (or is it an opportunity?!) for us at Voyager Estate is that we won’t source fruit from anywhere else on the map. You don’t have the ability to say, we wanted our growth to be better this year, so we’ll just bring in some fruit from elsewhere.

Does the ‘odd versus even’ vintage theory in Margaret River still hold up these days?

Generally speaking, it has been! Our two best vintages for Cabernet were arguably 2014 and 2018, so they were evens! 2020 was also a very good Cabernet vintage. Chardonnay on the other hand is much more forgiving across those more difficult years. In fact, arguably the odd years were better than the evens! 2021 was a standout for Chardonnay. 

What should we look for when deciding whether a Chardonnay is cellar-worthy?

It’s tempting to think it’s all about structure and acidity, but it’s not that simple. The fruit has to be super fresh and have incredible intensity. It’s mostly about the pedigree of the site – the aspect and soil profile. A wine’s longevity is actually the test of a truly great site. If a great site can’t live for a long time as a wine, then it’s not a great site. Broadvale Block 6 is a great example of this. There’s some initial rawness to the Broady, you can see the fruit and the oak, and the trajectory of that wine is amazing. You can see this trajectory in some of our aged releases. You will be rewarded for having patience and putting a few bottles down.

A bit of a controversial one…at what temperature do you recommend drinking and cellaring Chardonnay?

I would say for Chardonnay, somewhere between 15 to 17 degrees would be a great temperature to drink it. Serving temperature is about the wine’s body. Cold if its sparkling, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc…and Chardonnay should probably be the warmest. Chardonnay straight from the fridge is too cold in my opinion! The ideal temperature for maturation is about 10 to 12 degrees. That’s why it’s great to have access to aged releases through a winery, or other reputable source. You know where they’ve come from and that they’ve been looked after. Many wines just won’t survive the temperature fluctuations of the Australian summer unless they’re stored in ideal cellaring conditions at a constant temperature.

In Margaret River, people talk a lot about the Gingin clone. What’s the significance?

This is an interesting story. In Australia, the vine material that was available arrived in generations, and the first generation was whatever you could get a hold of! No one really knew much about provenance. The Gingin clone produces bunches with both small and big berries, sometimes called ‘hen and chicken’. That's because it turned out the Gingin clone Western Australia received had a virus! The bunches have an inherent virus in them that causes berries to develop inconsistently. It’s weird but it just works. The crops grown from Gingin are naturally lower yielding, with a lower skin to pulp ratio, creating concentration of flavour from this weird accident of history. And it's just a true Margaret River thing, or Western Australian thing actually, that the planting material imported from California had this virus. The University of California eventually worked it out and stopped exporting those vines. By then, Western Australia had planted it everywhere, and away we went.

What can we expect from Voyager’s 2023 Chardonnay releases?

We’ll know for sure in about three months I reckon! The 2023 season was perfect up until that last week, which had a bit of a sting in its tail. What I can say is that our best white grapes ripened first (a universal truth in winemaking!) and we observed fantastic flavour (lime, pear drop...) at low baumés, as well as a lovely acidity across the board, so a sure sign of a standout vintage.

Time Posted: 25/05/2023 at 4:35 PM Permalink to INTERNATIONAL CHARDONNAY DAY Permalink
Voyager Estate
12 May 2023 | Voyager Estate


Once upon a time, Australian Chardonnay wasn’t considered a cellar-worthy prospect. We all remember those older Australian styles – perhaps they even convinced you that Chardonnay just wasn’t your thing. Big, ripe, fruit-driven, full of butter and char from time on lees and oak. All the winemaking techniques thrown in, bar the kitchen sink. Many of these wines were exceptional in their youth, but a bit of time in the cellar and they often became broad and flabby – a shadow of their former selves.

For a while, Australian winemakers responded to these big, bold wines with much leaner, even austere expressions, but thankfully, a recent shift in philosophy has brought an array of more balanced expressions to the fore, putting Australian Chardonnay squarely on the global stage. As a result of this change, there’s now many extraordinary examples on the scene that make great candidates for the cellar.

Our Chief Winemaker, Tim Shand, suggests this is very apparent when it comes to Margaret River in particular. “The interesting thing is what’s going on internationally. People are saying that Margaret River Chardonnay is as good as any Chardonnay in the world. And it’s not just us in Australia, who’ve always celebrated one of their own. This is the likes of Jancis Robinson saying, ‘Hang on, I’ve just done a Burgundy tasting and a Margaret River tasting, and whilst stylistically different, quality-wise they’re on the same level.'

Youthful Australian Chardonnay shows a range of flavours depending on where it’s grown. In cooler regions like the Yarra Valley, you can expect to see yellow citrus, grapefruit and green apple, whilst Chardonnay from more moderate climates like Margaret River show riper stone fruit, exotic fruits and intense lime.

The focus in recent years has been toward preserving beautiful natural acidity, a critical factor in ageing, whilst pulling back on things like oak use, which can overwhelm pristine fruit characters. Another element is retaining phenolics through the winemaking process – naturally occurring compounds that contribute to the taste, colour and mouthfeel of the wine – that mean it will hold up better in the bottle over time.

However, whilst these factors are important, Tim suggests the biggest factor in determining how well a Chardonnay will age is the pedigree of the site from which it’s made. “First and foremost, the fruit must be exceptional. Then, it’s mostly about the aspect and the soil profile. There are some sites that are just never going to produce age-worthy wines. A wine’s longevity is actually the true test of a great site.”

At Voyager Estate, Broadvale Block 6 is one site that consistently produces age-worthy expressions of Chardonnay. Planted to the Burgundian Clone 95 on uniform chalky soils, the block is east-facing, capturing the morning sun. It produces Chardonnay with naturally bright acid and a taut minerality. “The trajectory of that wine is amazing,” says Tim. “Well worth putting down a few bottles if you have the patience. Over time, those acids become softer and more integrated, but the wine still holds an incredible line and length. You can also expect to see more of those complex honeyed nut characters coming through.”

Another important, more practical consideration once you’ve identified a cellar-worthy Chardonnay, is storage. “The ideal temperature for maturation is about 10 to 12 degrees," recommends Tim. “There’s no point spending your hard earned and then storing the wine incorrectly. That’s why it’s great to have access to aged releases through a winery, or other reputable source. You know where the wine’s come from and that it has been well looked after over the years. Many wines just won’t survive the temperature fluctuations of the Australian summer, unless they’re stored in ideal conditions at a constant temperature.”

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Time Posted: 12/05/2023 at 4:06 PM Permalink to THE AGE OF CHARDONNAY Permalink
Voyager Estate
27 April 2023 | Voyager Estate


April marked the 25th anniversary of the official opening of the Voyager Estate Cellar Door to the public, and to commemorate this milestone, our Proprietor Alexandra Burt shares a little insight into how one man's vision came to life…

“My father and founder of Voyager Estate, Michael Wright (1937-2012), was a wheat and wool farmer, an entrepreneur and a keen traveller. He was inspired by the grand cellar doors he visited in the Cape area of South Africa. Arguably well ahead of Australia at that time, they had a focus on creating high-quality yet accessible visitor experiences. Most of the cellar doors in the Cape winelands were welcoming people seven days a week without needing an appointment – quite different to the more exclusive approach taken by the French and Italian houses. Immediately, he saw the connection between this broader approach to tourism and the burgeoning scene in Margaret River.

Armed with this knowledge from his experiences in South Africa, Michael embarked on one of his most treasured projects: building the cellar door and garden at Voyager Estate. It was a vision that came to life in multiple stages over many years and was realised with limitless passion, determination, and an unwavering commitment to detail.

Michael chose the Cape Dutch style of architecture and landscaping simply because he really, really liked it. The blend of highly-detailed, crisp, white edifices with formal yet verdant gardens had an aesthetic appeal that he thought would surely be attractive to others too – a place people would want to see and experience for themselves and a memorable way to introduce people to Voyager Estate wines.

Many gifted designers and practitioners played a role in the creation of our cellar door and garden. Perhaps the man of that hour and very much Michael’s partner-in-crime was the celebrated WA architect, Geoffrey Summerhayes. Our builder, and the local hero of this story, Gordon Temby, was also virtually a permanent staff member for the better part of ten years and knows where every pipe and conduit is buried.

Geoffrey Summerhayes’s connections in South Africa opened the door to numerous other collaborators, each an expert in their field and many of whom also became dear friends of the family. Two among these were Michael Olivier and Jay Smith. Celebrated restaurateur and chef, Michael Olivier, brought a lively and different approach to the restaurant offering, as well as the bonus expertise of his wife and front-of-house partner, Maddie, whilst Jay Smith brought warmth and hospitality to the fore with his authentic interiors.

For the first phase of the extensive, traditional Cape Dutch gardens, Michael used the expertise of the local doyenne of landscape architecture, Marion Blackwell. Marion laid out the original landscaping master plan and conjured the initial essence of the plantings that would eventually take shape. Subsequent to Marion’s contribution, Michael engaged the South African duo of Ian Ford and Deon Bronkhorst to complete the design and oversee the planting out of the garden. They, too, made an extraordinary commitment to this project, bringing passion and humility with them.

Here it is worth a special mention to our Gardens team, headed up for many years now by Lynden Davies. In particular, I’d like to shine a spotlight on our long-time in-house horticulturist, Sandra Thomas, who was part of some of the earliest developments in the garden and planted many of the mature plants you see today. 

The whole project was a long labour of love. Although the building and garden were completed in 1996, it wasn’t until 1998 the Estate officially opened to visitors. Michael thought the plants and trees were too immature and not ready for public viewing so, true to his preference of getting timing right, he put the opening on hold by two years. Stage one was soon followed by a renovation, with the Restaurant opening in 2001. Also, around that time, part of the existing garden was temporarily removed to make way for the excavation and construction of an underground barrel cellar, believed to be Western Australia’s largest.

For Michael, the Cape Dutch aesthetic brought something distinct and timeless to the region. Whitewashed walls feature throughout the property, constructed in meticulous detail. These originated with the early custom of waterproofing mud brick with mortar using sand, lime and shell grit. A piece of wood and a bath sponge created the ruffled effect on the surface. Cobblestone pathways were paved with grey cobbles imported directly from South Africa, to remain true to the Cape Dutch style. (In fact, importing those cobbles was one of my earliest jobs in the business and it was so complicated that I felt qualified for my own import-export licence by the end.)

In the garden surrounding the Cellar Door, the Cape Dutch influence can be seen in the balanced axial design, which runs north-south and east-west and features distinct walled garden beds, or werf gardens, as they are known in South Africa. These are inspired by the ancient walled gardens of Persia and, as the story goes, were traditionally built to keep out lions and other predators from farms and homesteads. At the centre of these axis lines is a tranquil pond for symmetry. Thousands of plants were sourced and planted by the team to fill the iconic garden, which have taken on a new life under the organics program.

And then there is the famous lawn. In former days, so perfect was the green that many a visitor would caress the lawn under the palm of their hand to see that it was real. Since our move to organic gardening, we have had to learn to embrace imperfection as it simply isn’t possible to fashion that flawless carpet of green without chemicals. I know my father would be disappointed – he was always so proud of the lawn – but times have changed and, I suspect, so would have he. 

The cellar door experience we offer today, in the Wine Room and in the Restaurant, has come a long way from those first offerings in 1998. I recently welcomed some guests whose last visit was 21 years ago – in 2002 – and they remarked how much it had changed, and yet how much it still felt the same. To me, it’s a proof point that we have, over 25 years, managed to stay true to Michael’s original promise of an exceptional wine experience, delivered with warmth and generosity, for people from all walks of life to enjoy. I know that, for as long as we maintain our dedication to sustainability, to innovation and to our team, we will always be able to offer that same spirit of welcome to anyone coming to visit this special patch of land we call home.”

Time Posted: 27/04/2023 at 10:53 AM Permalink to A 25 YEAR CELEBRATION Permalink
Voyager Estate
20 April 2023 | Voyager Estate


Welcome to the last in our series of snippets straight from Chief Winemaker Tim Shand, revealing all the magic and momentum of our first certified organic vintage...

"A week is a long time in the vineyard and the vintage gods opted to unleash their wrath upon us. The rain flagged in last week’s diary set in for four days, 40mm in total! Our 'wait and see' approach quickly turned into a logistical exercise of picking the remaining Cabernet blocks as quickly as possible.

With an experienced crew in vineyard and winery, we were able to flex up and with some long shifts over the weekend we were all done by Monday. That left small hand picks of Grenache and Petit Verdot on Tuesday and before we knew it Vintage 2023 was in the bag.

As the dust settles, a reassuring mix of Cabernet batches emerges, picked before and after the rain. All are free of botrytis and tannins and flavour are ripe. Despite the tough end to the season, we’ve given ourselves the elements we need to put together some very fine Cabernets and blends.   

So this marks my last entry in the Vintage 2023 diary! It’s been a rewarding and enjoyable harvest with exciting wines from across our vineyard – a testament to our wonderful site and diligent team. Vintage in Margaret River is certainly a marathon not a sprint (maybe more accurately a marathon with a mad sprint at the end).

As always in the wine game, there are plenty of lingering ‘what if’s’ to get us thinking forward to the next vintage; pruning commences in a few months as we lay down the canes to see us through to February 2024. I’ll meet you back here then."

Time Posted: 20/04/2023 at 5:12 PM Permalink to VINTAGE VIGNETTES: WEEK EIGHT Permalink
Voyager Estate
14 April 2023 | Voyager Estate


Welcome to the next in our series of snippets straight from Chief Winemaker Tim Shand, revealing all the magic and momentum of our first certified organic vintage...

"As we watch the second cold front of the week cross the capes, whoever was silly enough to call this the Goldilocks vintage is realising that with every Goldilocks comes a big angry Papa Bear at the end.

This vintage has always run about two weeks behind ‘normal’, with grape ripening slow and even, pushed out by the cool spring we had.

Like the frog in the pot, the longer it goes, the closer to the dicey change of season you get, and Easter is notorious for heralding that change in Margaret River.

We rely on three sources for our weather forecast; the Bureau of Meteorology or 'BoM' (blissfully optimistic, for those seeking solace), the Windy app (prudent and detailed, more for the intellectual) and finally the Metvuw website, whose grim colour scheme indicating imminent rain brings together the palette of Jackson Pollock with the bitter reckoning of Nick Cave. It’s best taken with three fingers of Scotch or a triple espresso.

All three sources agreed this week that trouble was on the way. Cabernet, which has had such a good run to this point, suddenly found itself exposed. On the cusp of greatness, but with disaster as its bedfellow. To pick or not to pick, it was time for decisive action. So as a true Libran, I chose both!

We’ve had red hot go in the ripe parts of our best two Cabernet blocks – V9 and U12. The tannin ripeness of the year and the bright red fruit is evident for both batches.

The remaining fruit we entrust to the vintage gods and the diligent preparation of our vineyard team, which goes right back to shoot thinning and de-lateraling in November and the open, well-ventilated canopies they laid down..."


Return to journal >>>

Time Posted: 14/04/2023 at 12:00 PM Permalink to VINTAGE VIGNETTES: WEEK SEVEN Permalink
Voyager Estate
5 April 2023 | Voyager Estate


Welcome to the next in our series of snippets straight from Chief Winemaker Tim Shand, revealing all the magic and momentum of our first certified organic vintage...

"This week was all about Shiraz as we harvested the last fruit from the U11 Block. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon have all ripened in a linear and predictable fashion this year, but Shiraz has been harder to track. Tannins ripened early but the fruit lacked intensity at that point.

By the same token, we are keen to pick in the ‘Syrah’ zone of ripeness (think savoury and spicy!) so we’re cautious not to let it hang too long. We anticipated including more stalks in the ferments this year, so the lignification (woodiness) of the stalks is also a factor to consider.

This being my first vintage at Voyager (and with plentiful excellent fruit to work with), we’ve had a bet each way – taking a few different approaches.

One portion we have deliberately picked a touch early, chasing pepper and tension in the wine. It won’t have the stuffing but that will come from elsewhere.

Another portion is all about ripe fruit sweetness against a wall of tannin, the muscle of the future blend.

Our approach with whole bunch is also multi-dimensional. We’ve got a small batch of 100% bunches, chasing carbonic maceration character and made in the full Beaujolais style.

Another bunch approach sees 50% bunches, 50% whole berries in one fermenter. A warm, quick natural ferment should maximise the power of this wine without over-extracting green stalk tannin.

Each of these will be pressed over the coming week or so. They’ll finish ferment in tank before being racked to oak for malolactic fermentation. It will be interesting to see how the different elements come together as a blend."

Time Posted: 05/04/2023 at 11:30 AM Permalink to VINTAGE VIGNETTES: WEEK SIX Permalink
Voyager Estate
28 March 2023 | Voyager Estate


Welcome to the next in our series of snippets straight from Chief Winemaker Tim Shand, revealing all the magic and momentum of our first certified organic vintage...

"The cool nights tell us it’s autumn, but the weather stays sunny and reliable. Older heads in the region caution patience as we start to harvest the reds, it looks to be a vintage that will keep giving if the fruit is allowed to hang. A Goldilocks season indeed - not too hot, not too cold and rain at just the right times.

We had a foray into Shiraz this week. W4 block is always first in, and with low-ish crops and a well-balanced canopy the fruit spectrum ripened evenly into blueberry/mulberry notes with good intensity. We grabbed a touch of Viognier to co-ferment at about 6%.

We also did a small, speculative pick in U11 (our best block) knowing that what we may lose in richness we’ll gain in spice and natural acidity, capturing savouriness and tension with an earlier pick.

The white harvest finished with our intriguing old blocks of Chenin and Semillon. Both planted in 1978 next to the winery, they sit apart from our broader plantings and ripen to their own clock. The fruit characters are very different (more opulent and complex), and we pushed them as far as we felt comfortable to make richer styles from these varieties. They will see skin and whole bunch ferments for enhanced texture and weight, and a nice mix of oak (the Semillon also has our concrete egg to itself for the next few months).

A sneaky bottle of 2015 Pol Roger Vintage Brut (excellent, despite the very warm year there!) was opened in the cellar to celebrate an entirely successful white grape harvest where we were able to pick at a leisurely pace and capture the generosity and detail of the season."

Time Posted: 28/03/2023 at 2:48 PM Permalink to VINTAGE VIGNETTES: WEEK FIVE Permalink
Voyager Estate
23 March 2023 | Voyager Estate


Welcome to the next in our series of snippets straight from Chief Winemaker Tim Shand, revealing all the magic and momentum of our first certified organic vintage...

"As the winery fills up, week four of harvest has been all about Semillon and Chenin Blanc.

This has been my first extensive experience with Semillon. As delicious as it is, it presents challenges to vigneron and winemaker alike. In the vineyard it ripens a bit slower than Sauvignon Blanc, and loves to get botrytis at the merest whiff of rain. We really don’t want to rush and pick it underripe though, and are searching for a lemon barley character that indicates the vine has peaked.

In the winery, Semillon grapes tend to ‘slip out of their skin’ when pressed, leaving a little jelly blob behind that is very difficult to press the juice out of! Grapes that keep their flesh on the skin give the press some purchase to squeeze out the juice.

Semillon grapes do not afford us this opportunity and those jelly blobs block up the screens of the press, stopping juice from draining out. So it’s a long, painful process extracting juice from Semillon. But it’s worth it, absolutely the most delicious juice to drink fresh during vintage!

Our main block of Semillon is U10; adjacent to our best Shiraz and Cabernet sites this may be the best dirt on the property. The block carries a bigger crop in the eastern side, probably due to a heavier and more generous soil profile. As a result, the two halves of the block ripen at a different pace.

We grabbed the west prior to the rain on Friday, but were forced to wait it out four long days and nights to go in and pick the east. The birds had a party in the meantime, but we were able to pick around this and the second harvest came in with a similar fruit profile to the first and we're happy with that.

We have one more pick of Chenin and Semillon to come, from small blocks adjacent to the cellar door car park. These will be picked Thursday, followed by a quiet celebration marking the end of the white grape harvest. We’ll be into Shiraz and Merlot by the weekend."

Time Posted: 23/03/2023 at 1:22 PM Permalink to VINTAGE VIGNETTES: WEEK FOUR Permalink