Home / One by One

The Centare Project

With grand plans to elevate Yarra Valley Cabernet blends to unprecedented heights, the aim of Centare Vineyard’s high density project,  is to produce wines of Grand Cru quality through high density vineyard planting. 

Australian vineyards, where both sunshine and land tend to be plentiful, usually have rows from 1.8 to 3 metres apart, and vines tend to be planted at 1.5 metres apart, with planting density varying from approx 1700-2800 vines per hectare. Grapevines are allowed to thrive naturally, with their growth largely uninhibited by any competition from their neighbours. The distance between trellises, particularly in modern vineyards, is largely determined by the width of the tractor required to drive down it. The greater the distance between vines - row to row, and vine to vine - the greater the sunshine exposure for ripening and the better the airflow for disease management.

The Process

Looking to the French and their influence on best viticulture practice for wine quality, the new Centare Vineyard has rows and vines separated by 1 metre. The first phase of the project is complete, the number of vines per hectare is approximately four times the standard in Australia, at 10,000 per hectare, planting density is therefore five-fold that of a regular vineyard.  

Why are we doing this? Because high density vineyards are associated with higher quality grapes and wines with elevated intensity and character, due to increased vine competition and controlled yields. The objective is to produce the same total fruit yield across the area, as it would at standard density, but with 1/5 of the crop per vine. The fruit will be superior, having a greater concentration of aroma, flavour and phenolic compounds (colour and tannin) because all the energy and goodness are directed to less bunches. The closeness of planting increases competition between vines - and controls/restricts general vine growth.

While high density Pinot Noir & Chardonnay vineyards are quite common, particularly in France, it is a structure rarely, if ever, used with Cabernet Sauvignon and its friends (Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot). This is because the management of high density vineyards is both intensive and expensive. It requires unique equipment (we have one of only two French-manufactured special tractors in Australia to work this trellis structure), significant manual input, expert knowledge and attention to detail- every aspect from sunlight to airflow, disease control, pruning and thinning is carefully managed. Such commitment and passion for the project makes Centare Vineyard truly one of a kind. 

We invite you to join us as we continue our journey of excellence - it’s a long term project that will take many years to materialise in to it’s full scale but it’s a story we know you will enjoy following.