The vineyard and winery were established by Robert and Vivienne Ritchie in the Victorian High Country near Mansfield, at the foot of Mt Buller. Pioneers in cool climate grapegrowing and winemaking; their daughter Rosalind made the wines from 1982 until 2005, Jane Donat from 2006 to 2008, and Andy Browning from 2009 onwards. Moving to biodynamic grapegrowing in 2006 and utilising only wild yeasts from 2009 Delatite is now firmly established as one of Australia's leading family owned small wineries (James Halliday Five red star producer since 2009).
How long in the grape and wine business?
We've been farming on Delatite Station since the 1890's and my parents planted the first vines (from cuttings supplied by Jim Irvine from McClaren Vale) in 1968. From 1974 to 1981 they sold their grapes to Browns at Milawa and then put up a winery during the 1982 vintage. The rest is history! Now Delatite Winery boasts 28 hectares of biodynamically grown vines of which one third are on phylloxera resistant rootstocks.
What are the biggest changes that Delatite has made since 1982?
The first big change was in our viticultral practices - around 2002 I started dabbling in biodynamics and then in late 2005 we moved to 100% biodynamics in the vineyard. The second was when Andy Browning became our winemaker in early 2009 - we moved to 100% indiginous (or 'wild') yeast fermentation across all our varieties. Despite the incredulity of many in the industry over the last seven vintages we've only had to add yeast to one tank of estate grown wine. And previously we would have at least 1 or 2 'stuck' ferments every vintage.
Did you know...
A portion of all of Delatite's white wines ferment and then spend time on lees in large old oak puncheons. This varies from 10-15% for Riesling and Gewurztraminer, 25-50% for Pinot Gris, and up to 100% for Chardonnay.