Jennifer and John Nagorcka began the development of Hochkirch in 1990 with a small planting using conventional Australian viticultural practices and varietal selection. The approach subsequently used was radically modified in response to the very cool climate with growing season temperatures similar to Burgundy. A high density planting pattern was implemented, with a low fruiting wire to take advantage of soil warmth in the growing season, and the focus was placed on Pinot Noir (4.5 hectares), with lesser quantities of Riesling (1.5 hectares), Cabernet Sauvignon (one hectare), Semillon and Shiraz (0.5 hectares each). The vines are not irrigated and no synthetic fungicides, pesticides or fertilizers are used; currently the Nagorcka’s are certified bio-dynamic by Demeter.
Hochkirch vineyard lies on a north facing slope 250 m. above sea level along an elevated plateau running southwest from Dunkeld at the foot of the Grampians in far south west Victoria. Terrain is gently undulating with the Grampians commanding attention to the north. All vines are on own roots with no rootstocks at all used in the vineyard.
The terroir here is red-brown basalt loam over stony gravel that defers to clay at depth. The vines are not irrigated in this cold climate that gives ample spring/summer rainfall. The vineyards are planted to a high density of 6000 vines per hectare with closely spaced vines; manual cane pruning and strict control of yields used to produce a low yield per vine (approximately 500g) and allows an optimal crop to languidly ripen during the balmy days and cold nights of autumn.
Biodynamic vineyard management uses careful observation of nature’s rhythms including lunar and planetary cycles, and natural preparations to nurture and enliven the earth’s soil allowing a balanced healthy and productive vineyard ecosystem, with complete avoidance of synthetic chemicals and poisons. 2003 was the first year of Hochkirch’s fully Demeter certified production.