Australia's Oldest Wine Region
The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region, with the first grape vines planted in the early 1820s. Today, it is Australia’s most visited wine region playing host to just over 1.5 million visitors each year. The Hunter Valley is approximately two hours drive north of Sydney and about 45 kilometres inland from the coastal city of Newcastle.
The Hunter Valley is based on the catchment of the Hunter River and includes the Upper and Lower Hunter areas. Lake's Folly is located in the Lower Hunter area. Hunter Valley wines are light and elegant in style, making them a perfect partner to food, and are lower in alcohol than those of many other regions.
The Hunter Valley is warm, even hot. However, temperature, within broad limits, has nothing to do with quality, but affects only style. In addition to hot days, the Hunter Valley has relatively warm nights when the physiological processes that ripen fruit can continue. The days are also quite humid, reducing moisture stress and allowing the leaves to keep their pores open longer during hot weather. This allows photosynthesis and growth to continue when, in drier air, it would not. The Lower Hunter Valley around Pokolbin is a little wetter than the Upper Hunter Valley but is closer to the coast and benefits more from cooling sea breezes.
Two distinct soil types can be found on the Lake's Folly site. The first is red clay, which is found on the upper slopes of our vineyard. This red clay soil contains a distinctive limestone underlay that is integral to the quality of the fruit grown on these blocks.
The second soil type is a sandy loam, overlaying yellow clay. This soil type is synonymous with the growing of high-quality white wines, such as Chardonnay, and is found on the flat adjoining an old creek bed. This soil is the reason that the wines produced from fruit grown on the flat display their structure and length.
Map Coordinates: 32º 50’S
Altitude: 200–400 metres
Heat degree days, October–April: 2070 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, October–April: 530 millimetres (21 inches)
Mean January temperature: 23.7°C
Relative humidity, October–April, 3 pm: Average 49%
Harvest: Mid January – Early March
There is an old saying that the wine is made in the vineyard (ie good fruit makes good wine). Most of our Cabernet vines are now more than 50 years old. This means that over the years, the vines have ‘self-regulated’. This natural low cropping gives the grapes better consistency of flavour. The terroir, which is a rare combination of volcanic hill, alluvial creek flat and south-easterly aspect, is ideal for the production of fine wines. The vines are pruned heavily for low production high quality fruit, and trellised with vertical shoot positioning, which gives more reliable flavour even in difficult years. Maintaining a true ‘estate’ philosophy (ie grown, vintaged and bottled on the estate) allows us to fully express the terroir of this particular site.
Crop levels are also critical in achieving complexity (not to mention canopy management, irrigation etc). Needless to say, growing all our own fruit at the Folly enables us to be super diligent in achieving these goals, the weather having the last say on the fruit intensity for a particular year. With the old vines, low crop levels, and good canopy management, we are consistently presented with above average fruit. Throw in some traditional winemaking, French oak and you have a unique distinguished single site wine.