The most important person to our small vineyard was and is Steve Sadlier from Yarra Glen who convinced us many years ago to plant the first grapes on Two Hills Road in Glenburn. Ever since, he has been our viticulturist consultant. But Steve Sadlier has not only a consultancy business, called “vineadvice”, but also a vineyard of his own. Its name is Nenagh Park. He choose the name in commemoration of his great-grandfather, also called Stephen Sadlier, who came from Ireland to Australia in the mid 19th century from the town of Nenagh in the county of Tipperary.
The Sadlier family moved to Yarra Glen more than 100 years ago. The original homestead burned down in the bushfire of 1939. Steve and his family of six (wife Meagan and the children Bronte, Lou-Allan, Millicet and Heidi) live in the little house which was erected as replacement for the lost homestead. Of the original family land, Steve farms about 60 acres of which 21.5 acres are under vines. The vines are between 10 and 17 years old. Before 1997 Steve was the chief viticulturist at Yarra Ridge which is just across the road from his own vineyard and the Sadlier property.
The Yarra Valley is one of the most famous wine regions in Victoria. Outstanding cool climate wines are made here, especially Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In the last couple of years late frosts destroyed most of Steve’s fruit. In 2002 only two tonnes of fruit were harvested from 21 acres; in 2006 the harvested volume was 32 tonnes which compares to a normal year of 75 tonnes. Severe frosts usually do not only have a negative impact on the fruit in the year the frost occurs but also the subsequent year. Usually, volumes are down until the vines recovered.
The Chardonnay block
Steve grows Chardonnay (about 9 acres), Pinot Noir (7.5 acres), and to a lesser extent Merlot (0.75 acres), Cabernet (2.5 acres) and Sauvignon Blanc (1.3 acres). Some of his fruit is contracted on a long term basis by one of the oldest wineries in the Yarra Valley, Yering Station. Steve sells mainly the fruit but in some years produces up to 250 cases of his own wine, usually made by Alan Johns of Yering Farm who makes also our wines. He sells his own wine as “clean skins” but plans are underway to develop a label and for the more distant future the vision is to develop the old house into a cellar door-cum-bed and breakfast.