The Dodgy Brothers
South of Adelaide the ranges that guard the city’s eastern flank drift towards the sea, as if trying to catch a glimpse of St Vincent Gulf itself. It is in this area, throughout the McLaren Vale where we source fruit for our wines.
Five vineyards throughout the Sellicks foothills are the source for our wines bursting with the generous fruit flavours for which McLaren Vale is known – younger vines that produce outstanding Shiraz, Grenache, Fiano, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc.
But further north – near the townships of Clarendon, Blewitt Springs and Kangarilla – are three vineyards of particular importance to Dodgy Bros – Smart, Wait and Sherry vineyards.
The Smart Vineyard is all Grenache, and the Sherry vineyard is Shiraz. The Wait vineyard is Shiraz and Grenache, planted in 1942.
In each of these vineyards old vines moderate their crop loads, requiring little irrigation and warding off disease. The vines effectively look after themselves and wines made from these vineyards are meant to be true expressions of the places that these grapes come from.
The sprawling Wait vineyard is situated on a ridge approximately 200 metres above sea level, straddling the Onkaparinga River Gorge National Park. The original parcel of land was purchased in 1926 by Fred Wait and his wife Emily and was run as a vineyard and mixed livestock farm. Over the ensuing decades, Fred and his descendants purchased adjoining parcels of land and planted to vineyard. The farm is presently owned and managed by third generation Gary, his daughter Robyn and son-in-law Paul.
The Top Bush block was planted in the mid 1940s by Fred’s son Eric, wife Mavis and son Gary. The vines are dry grown in the bush method, with restricted yields when rain is scarce. Soils are characterized by heavy loam topsoil over clay subsoil.
The Sandy Corner block was planted by Gary and his dad Eric, with some help (dropping cuttings in the planting holes) from the “little” Waits – Gary’s son Andrew and daughter Robyn. Originally bush grown, the vines were trellised onto a single cordon wire in the early 80s. The A second wire was installed a few years later and the block remains in operation as a double cordon trellised block. Soil type is exactly as the block name suggests – Blewitt Springs sand over Blewitt Springs sand!
The Sherry “Old Vine” block of Shiraz was planted in the late 1950s by Stan Sherry, on a site in the Blewitt Springs sub-region of McLaren Vale. The vineyard is currently owned and managed by Stan’s son Brenton and daughter-in-law Vanessa.
The vines are planted part way up a sandhill at an elevation of 140 meters, in deep sandy topsoils overlaying north Maslin sands that were deposited during the Eocene period, some 34 to 56-million-years ago.
The vines are trellised to a double cordon sprawl, and are hand pruned and handpicked.
The Smart vineyard is situated two kilometers south of Clarendon, some 230 meters above the Onkaparinga River. The dry grown Grenache bush vines were planted in 1921 by Frederick Alfred Smart, and are currently owned and managed by Fred’s son Bernie and grandson Wayne.
The site is home to some of the oldest geology in the region, with 750-million-year old laminated grey and green siltstone underlying the ironstone and loam topsoils of the vineyard.
Great attention and care is given to hand pruning the nearly 100-year-old vines, as is the timing of the hand picking, with fruit harvested at optimum ripeness and flavour profile according to the climate of the season.