The Howard Park philosophy is one of continual improvement, excellence & innovation. This is evident in the culture of our vineyard practice, helmed by Chief Viticulturist David Botting & Vineyard Operations Manager Nic Taylor. The team is given freedom to focus on projects of their interest, & to control processes in-house; from establishing a rootling nursey, to building custom vineyard machinery, or importing specific vine clones.
As one of Western Australia’s leading family-owned wineries, Howard Park is a specialist in the foremost grape-growing regions of the state - Margaret River & Great Southern. Over time the viticultural team has built up knowledge of vineyards across the regions, leading to the carefully selected acquisition & development of four vineyards.
The Margaret River vineyards, Leston & Allingham, are named after Jeff’s father & grandmother, & make up the cornerstone of Howard Park’s Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon production. In the wild & isolated Great Southern the vast Mount Barrow vineyard was designed from virgin soil with plantings of a diverse selection of Chardonnay & Pinot Noir clones from Burgundy & our own nursery. The Abercrombie vineyard is one of the very oldest in the Great Southern, planted with Houghton clone Cabernet in 1974. Each vineyard is diligently managed & viewed as individual sites & blocks, with a heavy organic & biodynamic focus, but without the conformity of certification.
Vineyard Nursery & Clones
A natural progression of our vineyard development & expansion program was to establish a nursery at the Leston property, to assure the genetic integrity of our vine rootlings. Planted in 2014, it produces approximately 40,000 rootlings per year, all sourced from our vineyard blocks with outstanding performance records.
For example, rootlings of the Cabernet Sauvignon Houghton clone came from our Abercrombie vineyard in Mount Barker, initially planted in 1974. Likewise, we have imported specialist clones to be propagated on our vineyards in the future.
We believe in the diversification of clones for optimal winemaking potential, hence our Mount Barrow vineyard has been planted with 9 varieties of Pinot Noir clones, & 6 of Chardonnay. However, this can mean up to 16 sub-blocks of four clones replicated 4 times.
In the last 10 years we have undertaken many viticultural projects, though perhaps the most significant has been to research & develop a complete composting system on a commercial scale, to fully utilise our grape waste. (See our Sustainability page for more).
Arguably one of the most innovative teams within Howard Park, the vineyard staff observes a motto of constant improvement. Keen inventors, there have been many hours spent in the shed tinkering on machinery. Their inventions include bird net machines, vineyard rollers (for rolling cover crops & renovating mid rows), a row-levelling machine, a rip-closing machine (which adds compost & fertiliser to the nursery, then closes it back up) & a grab (claw) tractor attachment for cane conversion.