Hanging quality vines

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Lindsay McCall from Paringa Estate, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Lindsay McCall from Paringa Estate, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

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Lindsay McCall, Paringa Estate, Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria [©VisitVineyards.com]

A school teacher with a dream to make wine, Lindsay McCall and his wife took a risk in the 1980s when they planted 10 acres of vines on their Red Hill property. That risk has paid off, with awards and recognition for the small family operated business.

"My wife and I established Paringa here at Red Hill in 1985," says Lindsay. "We bought the property in 1984 specifically to plant a vineyard, although back in those days we were unsure really what the future held. I was looking at a career change from being a full time school teacher to hopefully one day being a full time vineyard cum winemaker. But back then the future was unsure really and this region was only just beginning. There were only several other vineyards in the region.  

"We began planting in 1985 and planted out our 10 acre vineyard here over the following five years. We’ve pursued quality, it’s been our main aim. We haven’t established big flash buildings. Initially my aim was really to make the best wine that I possibly could. To that end we’ve worked hard in the vineyard in terms of trying to discover the best trellising method. We’ve got quite an elaborate trellis system here now. It’s probably the third system that’s evolved over time.

The trellising method is certainly different and anybody that visits the vineyard will notice the steel frames and an unusual method of supporting the vines. When people ask him why Lindsay says: "basically we’ve monitored the vines over a number of years and tried to find a method of trellising them that will allow them to attain a natural balance and as a result of that we maximise the quality of the fruit.

His methods are working, over the years Paringa has collected many awards. "Probably one that gave me a big thrill many years ago was our 1993 Shiraz which, in Cape Town, South Africa, won the best Australian wine in the first South African Australian Wine Challenge, and that was amongst 100 of the best wines from Australia sent over. Since then we have regularly collected awards for our Pinot and Shiraz, and most recently in the Melbourne Show in the 2003 Melbourne Show we were awarded the Most Successful Victorian Exhibitor Trophy, as well as the Most Successful National Exhibitor which was a huge thrill.

"It provides huge pleasure and gratification that you’re producing wine of high quality and matching it against anybody in the country basically. Add to that, it helps you promote your brand and your image that helps you market your wine. So there’s a two edge side to it. One is letting you see where your quality is and the other is helping you market and sell your wine," he says.

"We’ve built up a good reputation over the last 10 years and people come on an annual basis to buy our Pinot and Shiraz. Certainly once they hear that in the Melbourne Show,  for example, both our 2001 and 2002 Pinot’s both got gold medals and were in the top in their class they may seek you out a little more than they would otherwise.

"We are a  small producer, a small family operated business. Our best market is Sydney but even there our wholesalers have to work hard because there’s a lot of competition and particularly the bigger companies have been doing a fair bit of discounting in recent times and that makes it harder particularly in the mid price bracket area."

Pinot is the star at Paringa. "I guess that most people would say our Pinot is our most consistent wine. Those vines are now in the 10 to 15 year old bracket and showing the benefit of vine age in my opinion, so they’re improving almost vintage by vintage with that age. We have a reputation for making a bigger Pinot style than most. I aim to get as much flavour and body into our Pinot as we can and that really comes from working the vineyard more than anything, it’s exposing the fruit to sunlight to improve colour, and it also improves the tannin levels in the fruit as well. Then once I get it into the winery it’s really following basic wine making procedures and newer techniques that have been developed over the last few years and then using first quality oak. I’m a believer that new oak in Pinot is essential and the end result is delicate Pinot but with a bit of punch behind it as well."

Regions

  • Mornington Peninsula (VIC)

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