HISTORY AND BACKGROUND OF ‘LONG GULLY ESTATE’
At Long Gully Estate, with over 30 years experience in premium grape growing and wine making, pride is taken in producing the best possible distinctive, cool climate Yarra Valley wines, at very competitive prices.
What began as a weekend retreat for the owners, Reiner and Irma Klapp, has now become the beginning of a whole new life for them. In 1972, when they purchased their 40 hectare property in the picturesque foothills of the Great Dividing Range on ‘Long Gully Road’ just west of Healesville, they had no idea they would be major contributors to the rebirth of the wine industry in the Yarra Valley. For the first ten years, they grazed cattle on their weekend ‘hobby farm’ but by 1982, could no longer ignore the enormous potential for their property to produce top quality grapes.
The initial planting was a total of only 2.2 hectares consisting of Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Further plantings of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Voignier, have now brought the total plantings to nearly 30 hectares. Long Gully Estate would be now seen as one of the larger ‘boutique vineyards’ in the Yarra Valley, crushing around 100 tons of grapes every vintage.
The aspect of the vineyard is on the western facing slope of the ‘Long Gully’ valley, aiding the drainage of cold air on frosty mornings (katabatic winds). The daily steady (usually from the S.W.) wind up the Gully has proved to be an added bonus in the fight against vine disease such as downy mildew, powdery mildew and botrytis as it help keeps the foliage cool and dry in moist, humid conditions.
The average yearly rainfall at the Yarra Valley Estate is between 800mm and 1000mm and occurs mainly between winter and spring. If supplementary water is required during a dry or stressful ripening period, a drip irrigation system is in place for harmonious grape ripening.
Long Gully Estate’s philosophy is, that to produce exceptional wines, you must first produce top quality fruit. The vines at Long Gully Estate tell the story. A great deal of hard work is bestowed upon the vines as well as tender loving care. A number of tasks are still done by hand in the vineyard such as cultivation, pruning and some picking are all carried out by thinking people; consequently more expensive than automation but not when you put quality as a primary consideration. Wherever possible, Long Gully Estate prefers to use organic methods in their vineyard to reduce the need for herbicides and pesticides. The Long Gully Estate viticulturist uses the latest viticulture methodologies and techniques. The trellising systems utilized on the vines are mainly ‘Arched cane VSP’ and ‘Modified Ballerina’ with some ‘Scott Henry’. These varied trellising systems suit different grape varieties to help ripen the fruit at harvest time. The greatest asset to Long Gully Estate is grape quality and in 2002, Long Gully Estate made the difficult choice to reduce ‘vine crop levels’ so that the limited fruit produced will be the best quality possible.
Winemaking at Long Gully Estate is now the responsibility of Kate Goodman & Caroline Mooney.
Long Gully Estate uses the latest techniques, ideas and equipment to help maintain their reputation as an innovative, premium wine producer with a recipe for success and a bright outlook for the future. Recent highlights include the 2007 & 2008 Rieslings which were voted among the ‘Top 100’ wines in Australia and the 2007 Riesling was voted the 7th best Riesling in Australia. The 2007 Chardonnay received 3 Trophies & 5 Gold Medals and the 2005 Reserve Merlot has won the Federation Square ‘Best in Class’ Award 2 years running, just to name a few.
Long Gully Estate produces 3 levels of quality / product ranges; the very limited production ‘Signature Series’ which is only made in years where exceptional fruit has developed, the ‘Premium Range’ & the ‘Cheery Giant Range’. The Cheery Giant range was born from a cancelled export order; a company from China placed a large order with a request to have ‘Cheery Giant’ printed on the corks. Soon after the order was prepared for them, it was cancelled so Long Gully Estate had a large portion of their bottled wine that could no longer be branded ‘Long Gully Estate’ so a ‘second label’ was created.
The ‘Cheery Giant’ label took off with gusto and so was put into the regular portfolio of wines. Long Gully Estate has received both local and international accolades for their quality and value. This quality is guaranteed to be 100% Long Gully wines are Estate produced & bottled. Long Gully Estate is almost entirely self sufficient and they even provide contract bottling and wine making services for neighboring vineyards.
Wine production on the Estate employs both traditional and newer technologies. Although the cost of establishing the winery has been extremely high, it is only with the best equipment, methodologies and people that exceptional wines are made. Within the cleverly designed winery (designed by REPCO’s former ‘Head of Engineering’ Robert Sword – retired & George Campbell – retired) are housed a brand new 5 tonne Sutter airbag press, a ‘vinimatic’ fermentation vessel & one of the most advanced crusher / de-stemmer available today; a Diemme Kappa 15. The newly acquired airbag press and crusher/ destemmer are the latest in technology from Switzerland and Italy, allowing the winemaker to delicately manipulate the pressing process so quality juice may be extracted. The ‘vinimatic’ is used only for fermentation of red grapes as it brings out the best pigments and flavours. Traditionally fermentation tanks are stationary or ‘static’ but the ‘vinimatic’ is mounted horizontally and rotates on a central axis to assist in mixing skins throughout the fermenting mass. The gentle rotating action of the ‘vinimatic’ also avoids heavy maceration of berries and assists in reducing harsh and bitter tannins. Most Long Gully Estate wines are aged in French oak casks or barrels, approximately 30% of which are replaced each year. Experimentation with casks of varying ‘toast’ is also carried out. (Toast refers to the fire-induced porosity of the casks’ interior and may be ‘light’, ‘medium’ or ‘heavy’). French oak is used from the forests of Allier, Nevers, Trouchais, Limousine and Bertrange.
Modern, in fact the latest state of the art technology is also employed to put the precious juice into the bottles. A ‘GAI’ automated bottling-line is the only one of its kind in Australia. The bottling-line prototype was developed in Italy and was purchased in Stuttgart Germany at the 1989 ‘Intervitis’ wine exhibition. At Long Gully Estate there is no compromise – only the best ingredients, technology and methodologies are employed… at every stage.
The administration at Long Gully Estate is managed by Reiner’s wife Irma (hence the famous Irma’s Cabernet – a Long Gully ‘flagship’).
Long Gully Estate is not any one person, it is a boutique family owned and run winery, comprised of enthusiastic people with a love of the grape and a will to produce a wine that is the best of its type.
Long Gully Estate produces some of the finest wines from the Yarra Valley and has achieved worldwide recognition including:
65 Gold Medals
75 Silver Medals
165 Bronze Medals
The Long Gully Estate Motto: Life is too short to drink bad wine!