Windowrie Estate, The Mill
Windowrie is a family owned and operated wine company.
Based 26km from Cowra the vineyard was established in 1987 with an initial planting of 60 acres. By 1991 Windowrie had 150 acres under vine – both ‘traditional’ and ‘non traditional’ varieties.
Traditional varieties included Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot.
Non traditional varieties included Tempanillo, Sangiovese, Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, Pertit Verdot.
With fruit taking as little as 15 minutes from harvest to crush.
The Windowrie winery is certified organic and the practice of minimal intervention is a core focus of Windowrie. Several parts of the vineyard are either certified organic or “in conversion”.
The gently undulating slopes of the Windowrie vineyard allow for excellent air drainage. To maximise light interception, vine rows are planted north to south and various types of canopy management are used including Scott Henry and Smart Dyson. These systems also aid in the control of vigour and ensure the fruit flavour characteristics of the Windowrie wines.
Supplementary irrigation is supplied via a drip system from an underground aquifer. Various methods of irrigation are employed such as Restricted Deficit Irrigation and Partial Root Zone Drying.
Windowrie Estate practises minimal intervention - no insecticides are used - and this ensures that natural predators flourish. Windowrie also manage an accredited organic vineyard and offer advice and management to vineyards in the region.
Grape varieties are planted according to which soil type irrigation method and canopy management are required for maximum quality and varietal fruit flavour. Windowrie Estate believes that the combination of the natural soil, climate, topography and water and careful management practices allow the growth of clean, fresh, full flavoured grapes.
Windowrie are dedicated to experimentation in the vineyard. This included the planting of several noncore varietals in order to learn which varieties are best suited to the relatively young region. Windowrie has the following varieties planted on the vineyard: Chardonnay, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese.
While the region has put its name on the map through its excellent Chardonnay it is the red varietals and Verdelho that Windowrie are most excited about in the future.
Jason O'Dea explains "Our first plantings of Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot are now nearly twenty years old and we are definitely seeing the quality of the fruit improve as the vines age. The yields are of course low however the quality is going ahead in leaps and bounds."
The O'Dea Family, believing that Cowra's potential as a grape-growing region could only be reached by processing its own fruit locally, have invested in a state of the art winery - completed in time for the 1999 vintage. The winery was erected on a hillside overlooking the magnificent vista of the Estate's vineyard.
The vision for the winery was to combine the latest technology with traditional techniques, and most importantly to reduce the critical time between picking and crushing the grapes. Because the Windowrie Estate vineyards surround the winery, winemaking can begin within minutes of harvesting.
David O'Dea explains “having a winery close to the source of production allows the special attributes of the locality to be stamped onto the wine. Windowrie wines are estate grown and made on site at the winery.”
The winery is also accredited as an organic processor allowing the winery to make organic wine from organically grown grapes.
The winery has the capacity to handle small volumes of fruit through to very large parcels up to 200 tonnes in one night.
The winery is dedicated to working with noncore varietals to access the ability of the region to produce regional wines of outstanding quality.
In 2008, in an effort to increase the biodiversity of the winery site, Windowrie set aside 100000 square meters surrounding the winery to establish a regeneration project. The aim of the project is to increase biodiversity and to offset carbon production at Windowrie. The first of five thousand native trees and shrubs were planted in January 2008. Waste water from the winery will be treated and used to help establish the project.
With support from the LCMA the plan is to return the entire area to its natural state by 2020.