The Jim Jim Vineyard
John and Ann agreed to give Peter Tisdall five years of their time and talents, before they went their own way.
As the cold climate Mt. Helen vineyard produced better and better fruit with every vintage, they were looking around for a similar property in the region for their own winery. And in fact, a fantastic property quite near Mt. Helen did come up for sale, or so they thought, as it turned out the owner was just getting an idea of what it was worth before his wife divorced him!
John and Ann had been planning to purchase their future vineyard jointly with Johns' sister Rosemary and her husband Ron Thompson. It was Ron who saw the newspaper advertisement for some land for sale in the Kyneton area. Along with 100 or so other people, they went along to the auction, the soil was right, the slope and altitude, the view was great! And by the end of the day, as much to their surprise as the other bidders, the 250-acre property was theirs.
This was of course, only the beginning of the hard work. Boundary fences were built, weekend vintage work was done by all four of them, while John worked full time in town as Executive Officer for the V.W.I.A. In 1983 the Pinot and Chardonnay were planted along with Semillon. Sauvignon Blanc came the following year.
The winery (and home!) was started in May 1985. It is constructed, or rather re-constructed, from the old grain silo in Echuca. The original building had 86 red gum poles, 48 of them have been used in this re-incarnation. In July 1986 they moved in, and the winery was ready to crush the 1987 vintage. Cellar Door opened in 1990.
Stan Hore planted out the bottom vineyard in 1988. The final plantings are 3 clones of Pinot Noir, 2 clones of Chardonnay, Semillon, 2 clones Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Merlot. The vines are planted one metre apart, with rows two metres wide. Champagne trellising is used, keeping the fruit low to the ground to utilise any reflected heat to aid in ripening (torture for the pickers at vintage!). Hanging Rock was one of the first vineyards to use this method in Australia. There are 16 acres under vine, 30,000 vines in total.
The Jim Jim itself, is a 6 million year old extinct volcano. The soil is deep, and one of the great blessings of this property is the limitless supply of good water from the underground bore. The bore was dug in 1983 and is 100 metres deep. The climate is cold (Macedon Ranges Region is the coolest grape growing region in Australia) and our vineyard is above the frost line. One problem is susceptability to cold windy weather during flowering which affects fruit set. Grapes have been picked as late as the beginning of June, the latest picked in Australia. The Jim Jim itself is 720 metres above sea level, the winery, 620 metres.