Queenstown Vineyards was established in 1991 by the current owners, Louise and Gary Trist. The vineyard is situated in St Andrews, which is part of the Yarra Valley approximately 40 kilometres east of Melbourne and is classified as a cool climate wine growing region. The vineyard occupies approximately 2.13 hectares consisting of 0.86 hectares of Pinot Noir clone MV6, 0.74 hectares of Shiraz clone PT23 and 0.53 hectares of Sangiovese clones 50 percent MAT1 and 50 percent MAT 2. The first planting of Pinot Noir and Shiraz was on ungrafted rootlings in 1991, this was followed by another additional small planting of Shiraz in 1998, also on ungrafted rootlings. The final planting of Sangiovese in 2003 was on grafted rootstock, Richter 110. 110 Richter has high phylloxera tolerance, a high to very high drought tolerance and imparts low vigour to the grafted vine. All vines are trained to the VSP trellis system with one cordon wire and two moveable foliage wires which are cane pruned and hand harvested to esnure the best quality fruit can be produced.
The vineyard is 180m above sea level at its highest point and has a general north-to-north westerly aspect. The topography of the site ensures drainage of cold air during frost risk periods down towards the gully on the northern edge of the site, which is sloping in a westerly direction away from the vineyard. Since this is a cool climate vineyard vine rows are oriented north – south to take advantage of the inception of the sunlight. Also, north-south row orientation of the vine rows allows full illumination of both faces of the vine canopy for part of the day, eastern side during the morning and western side during the afternoon.
The surrounding area is a mixture of cleared land that is used for grazing and remnant natural vegetation and the adjacent hills on the north and east of the site provide some protection from prevailing winds.
The figure below shows the location of Queenstown Vineyards within the Yarra Valley.
Yarra Valley Geographical Indication, (Yarra Valley Winegrowers Association 2007)
The St Andrews area of the Yarra Valley has many of the favourable attributes of the Yarra Valley such as the reputation for producing ultra premium wines coupled with its proximity to Melbourne and the associated cellar doors, tourist attractions and industry related annual events but also benefits from slightly less frost risk and lower vigour sites.
The first crop from the Pinot Noir was a meagre 400 kg, which was sold to a small boutique winery in the Yarra Valley in 1996. Queenstown Vineyard continued selling fruit to selected premium wine producers in the Yarra Valley up until 2008. From 2008 onwards a small select parcel of Sangiovese was retained for the Buttermans Track label. In 2009 a similar small parcel of Sangiovese was retianed plus some Shiraz which will be released shortly for the 2009 Buttermans Track label. Queenstown vineyards has had a proven track record of producing very high quality premium fruit from low yielding vines from a vineyard that has a unique mesoclimate and terroir.