Felton Road is built on a philosophy to get out there to explore different wines and try new things. “Maybe that is a dangerous thing to post in a place where many of the readers will be our loyal customers. But there’s more to life than Felton Road”.
There are 4 vineyards at Felton Road and they are all maintained in a biodynamic manner. The biodynamics way is to maximize the living energy within this sysem in order to make it self-sustaining and of the highest quality. Biodyanmic composts are made and forms thte foundation of the growing regime. The composts are treated with a series of preparation to produce a series of ferments. This creates a very rich and diverse “bacterial soup” which stimulates the breakdown of organic matter and creates a complex composition for the soil. Biodynamics requires a strong ethical link to guardianship of the land by every member of the team who work the land and manage it. We try to use our land not simply to be sustainable, but also to maximise the biodiversity it supports.
Considerable research by Stewart Elms (hence the Elm tree logo) in 1991 identified the north facing slopes at the end of Felton Road, Bannockburn as being one of the warmest and most ideal sites in Central Otago for the growing and production of premium wine. Heat summation data and soil maps of the area, developed as a result of the construction of the Clyde Dam, were helpful in this decision. The three different soils identified are free draining with low fertility characteristics, and combined with the unique climate, are ideal for the production of premium quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. The viticulturist, Gareth King, and his team of dedicated staff manage the vineyards. Meticulous summer management of a single vertical shoot positioned (VSP) canopy ensures even and early fruit maturity. Shoot thinning, shoot positioning, leaf plucking and bunch thinning are all carried out by hand as required, to ensure optimum quality fruit. We have inter-row planting of various different cover crops in order to assist in controlling vine vigour, improve soil health and general biodiversity. Mulch is also used in drier parts of the vineyard to help retain moisture, minimise the requirement for irrigation and to balance areas of lighter, more free draining soils. Organic compost is made utilising the winery waste, and organic cow manure and straw.
Since 2002 the vineyards have been managed organically and biodynamically. In 2010 all four vineyards were awarded full Demeter certification and in 2020 they were all also certified by BioGro. Pruning is carried out to leave desired bud numbers thus ensuring moderate controllable yields and to create an even, light penetrable canopy. Irrigation is usually necessary during the later dry summer months. Soil moisture levels are carefully monitored and water is applied only when necessary to maintain appropriate soil moisture levels. All grapes are carefully handpicked, keeping separate any quality differences within blocks due to clones, rootstocks and viticultural trials.