“When it comes to riesling, we have worked hard in the vineyard to create an environment that nurtures the creation of wines with minerality, nerve and drive. As the vineyard gets older and our understanding and management of it improves, we have found the intensity and natural acidity gets better with each year.” - Hunter Smith
Isolation Ridge Vineyard was named in 1988, after our friend Guy Grant visited the region and the newly planted vineyard, to help us to establish both a vineyard and winery name. After a few bottles of riesling over lunch, Guy jokingly suggested we call our vineyard site ‘Isolation Ridge’ due to the extreme remoteness of the site. Promptly adopted, we had no idea it would so aptly transmit the unique and humble approach we have taken to our viticultural and winemaking philosophy…
The vineyard is managed organically (certified in 2009), however the attention to detail goes further than just managing this way. The family live on the property and are in the vineyard every day. The viticultural techniques that we employ are constantly evolving in response to our observations of the behaviour of those vines. We know what we know from years spent looking after them and understanding their response to weather like rain, sun, thunderstorms, long hot summer days and cool night-time temperatures. These little adjustments might involve completing manual jobs on the right day as needed, as opposed to a set day of the week. In this way we are able to continue refining the things that make the soil healthier, the vines more resilient and at the end of the day, the wines more vibrant.
“It’s the little things… like noticing hot days can fatigue a vine, just like they do us, and asking ‘what can we do to give the vine additional energy to thrive?’ The cool breeze that rolls in over the landscape on a warm summer’s day brings relief to both the vineyard and vineyard worker equally - to share these moments with the vine is what makes a truly great viticulturalist.” - Hunter Smith
Vine resilience is central to the ongoing success of the vineyard. Frankland River has relatively low annual rainfall, so the vines are forced to drive their roots deep into the loamy, iron stone gravels in their pursuit of hydration. The absorbent clay bedrock swells with water during the winter months and allows the vines to access that water source during the months where surface hydration may be less frequent. This deep rooting means weather events on the surface have less impact on the vines, reducing the stress on the vines during the all-important growing season.
The notion of a great vineyard site (like great wine) is not the things that can be said about it, but rather those things that cannot be easily put into words. The way the breeze blows, the way it smells, what it feels like to walk the rows every day for 33 years… literally thousands of days. The memories of storms, sunsets and sunrises. All the while learning, observing and spending countless hours thinking about how best to enable and encourage the site to truly express itself in the bottle.
Isolation Ridge Vineyard embodies the philosophies we carry so strongly. Striving to let a vineyard site speak for itself through the wines it makes is what motivates us and hopefully moves those that drink the wines.
The results we believe speak for themselves.
“Frankland Estate is one of Australia's greatest wine producers with a thirst for excellence. The wine offering is underpinned by the pioneering work and vision of founders Judi Cullam and Barrie Smith only enhances the potency of Frankland Estate's wines.
The focus on riesling is, of course, at the forefront of any conversation about Frankland Estate. Established vineyards and considered single-site offerings have contributed to Frankland Estate's fame. They continue to craft wines that not only reflect their unique patches of Great Southern, but show that Australia produces wines to match the best of any riesling-producing nation”. Mike Bennie Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine