The farm, on which AVENTINE WINES is located, was first cleared for farming in the early 1900's by the two Barker brothers. None of those fancy chainsaws or bulldozers in those days. The brothers used 6-foot long, (about 2 metres) steel saws with one man on each end pulling and pushing in turn. Horses were used to pull tree stumps and move granite boulders.
They cleared about 600 acres (about 240 hectares) in that fashion.
The last Barker brother passed away a couple of years ago. Up to a year before his passing, he was still running his farm next door to us, climbing picking ladders with the rest of his workers, harvesting plums for market. They don't make them like that any more.
The farm had been growing table grapes for about the past 100 years. When we took over there were the remnants of various table varieties including a couple of acres of black muscat (Muscat of Alexandria) a variety from which just about all the area's muscats are made. By the time the vines are about 60 years old the quality of fruit and resulting liqueur is splendid. We planted the remaining vines, which total over 20 acres of wine grapes.
The whole farm is essentially located on the side of a north-facing hill. The vineyard is about 1000metre above sea level, and is composed of shallow weathered granite soils. The climate is Mediterranean, with hot days and cool nights. The vineyard is hand pruned, and the fruit is hand picked. We crop at about 3 to 4 tons per acre.
A successful vineyard is about timing, and a benevolent mother nature.