Home' Grower : October 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- October 2013 27
Grazing cattle clear
out vineyard wastes
By JACINTA ROSE
FOR many vineyard owners,
the sight of cattle wandering
up and down their vine rows
would be a nightmare, but for
Macclesfield winemakers and cat-
tle producers John and Margaret
Struik, this practice is an important
part of their farming program.
During most of the year the
6-hectare vineyard is peaceful and
cattle-free, but after vintage some
of the herd is allowed in to graze.
"Generally at the end of the
season we let cattle out into the
vineyards," John said.
"You've got to be a bit careful
about that -- it's only the quiet
heifers that go out there. Your
typical Black Angus bull would
not walk down the rows -- he
would walk through the rows --
but the heifers tend to move down
one row then turn and come
back up the next one just like the
"I think it's a natural way to run
a vineyard in some ways. I know
a lot of people use sheep in there,
and most people would be wary of
using cattle in a vineyard but we're
got quite a few quiet girls that are
there specifically for that purpose
and they also train calves how to
After planting their vineyard in
1996, the Struiks started their
Bendbrook wine brand in 1997,
and began processing and selling
small amounts of beef run on the
property a few years later.
"We found that there was some
demand from restaurants for beef
that also came from a vineyard,"
"We grew on that a little bit and
that's where we started to get a
little bit more involved with the
Running cattle in the vineyard
benefits the wine and beef side of
"When we bred from the first
cattle we'd put in the vineyard we
had some initial difficulty because
they were so fat, but the meat that
came off the ones that had been in
the vineyard and had been eating
some cabernet was very good,"
"We use very little in the way
of herbicide sprays because of the
cattle. We do have cattle out there
for quite a long time -- it's only
when we see the first signs of
Cattle run during winter
Only quiet heifers allowed in
Wine, beef businesses linked
John Struik started his Bendbrook wine brand in 1997, adding a beef
operation to the brand a few years later.
Cattle are allowed to graze in the vineyard during winter, cleaning up any
fruit left behind and keeping weeds under control.
The Bendbrook wine offering includes the flagship Pound Road Cabernet
Sauvignon and Goat Track Shiraz.
Parts of the vineyard are steeply sloped, but this terroir has a significant
impact on the wine's flavour profile.
budding that we take them out.
"During winter we don't go in
the vineyard at all. They clean
up fruit that may otherwise have
some bit of disease at the end of
the season -- that's all taken out
quite efficiently -- plus they fertilise
"I would stress the point to
anybody who is thinking about
putting cattle in a vineyard --
you've got to have quiet, trained
ones. If you've got that then life's
a breeze -- they do a remarkably
good job of looking after every-
thing out there."
Bendbrook got its name from the
bend in the Angas River, which
runs through the middle of the
property and separates cabernet
sauvignon vines from shiraz. The
Struiks also report that the river
floods every four to five years,
making regular access difficult.
In addition to the traditional
red varieties of shiraz and caber-
net, the Bendbrook vineyard is
home to some viognier vines, and
the wine portfolio has also been
extended to include a rosé made
from early-harvest shiraz grapes.
The flagship wines of the
Bendbrook offering are the Goat
Track Shiraz -- made from grapes
grown on a rocky, steep section
of the vineyard -- and the Pound
Road Cabernet Sauvignon, which
is grown on a gently sloping block
that runs down to the river, and is
named after one of the property's
John said attention to detail was
vital at every step of the growing
and winemaking process. All key
tasks in the growing chain -- such
as picking at vintage and winter
pruning -- are completed by hand
to ensure fruit quality is kept as
high as possible.
"I think the fact that everything
is done by hand here -- it's hand
pruned, hand picked and the
crushing is predominantly done
by hand as well -- has made a real
difference to what we get out of
it at the end," John said.
"We are a small operation and
we don't profess to be anything
other than that, but because of
that we can give personalised
attention which is vitally impor-
tant to us."
The fruit is processed at Wicks'
winery in Woodside on a contract
"They do a remarkably good job
of putting our lines together, we
can't fault them for the attention
they pay to our wine," he said.
With the wine brand not their
sole source of income, the
Struiks have a philosophy of only
producing wine when they feel
the quality is of a high enough
"We can turn up to about 3500
cases a year, depending on the
quality," he said.
"There are times when we skip
vintages completely because
things weren't right, so we may
sell it off as bulk wine, but if it's
not good enough to go into our
major labels then we don't do it.
"There are some people who
would like to try the wine even if
it's a dud vintage. If you have a
following for a label, then people
like to see the nuances between
each vintage, and they like to do
vertical tastings, but we'd rather
not put our name on a wine we're
not happy with."
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