Paul has worked for over 25 years as a horticulturalist and landscape architect, and this professional and personal connection to the land has instilled the importance of care and consideration for environments at Scorpo Wines. The Scorpo family has a strong connection to their vineyard – the unique land, soil and climate are what enable them to produce distinctive wines with a sense of place.
The Scorpos searched for four years to find the ideal site for their vineyard. Having extensively researched the Mornington Peninsula’s cool, maritime microclimates, they realised that this area was the perfect place for their project. Driving through the ridge systems on the Peninsula one day they happened upon a ‘For Sale’ sign on a parcel of land – a defunct cherry and apple orchard originally planted in the 1900s – nestled in the rolling hills halfway between Port Phillip Bay and Westernport. Amongst, the pine trees, abandoned stables, machinery sheds and Welsh ponies; they could see the untapped potential of this site.
The Scorpo vineyard offers the perfect combination of land, aspect, soil type and microclimate. The vines are planted on red/blown, clay/loam soils derived from Tertiary Eocene (40 million years old) Older Volcanics, between an altitude of 70–100m on a North-North-East facing 10% slope – a brilliant suntrap and ideal drainage to slowly grow and ripen grapes. The selection of varietals and clones used are based on substantial research and experimentation; vineyards are planted to Pinot Noir (3 ha), Chardonnay (1 ha), Pinot Gris (3.5 ha), and Shiraz (0.5 ha). Layout is based on vines spaced at 1.5m apart with 2.75m between rows. About six years ago, two more blocks were close-planted with vines 1m apart along the rows and 2.5m between rows.
The Mornington Peninsula climate has changed little since Eocene times, and Merricks North is located in the heart of this region. Fossil evidence suggests that the climate is much the same as it was before the Older Volcanics, which means that the Scorpo vineyards are blessed with a stable climate in most years.
The vineyard was an overgrown orchard with six acres of remnant bush vegetation when the Scorpo family bought it. The site is multi-dimensional: besides the excellent grape-growing conditions, it also offers a large scope of ecological possibilities. Since purchasing the property the Scorpos have rejuvenated the bush block by planting many indigenous plants such as Messmates,
Melaleucas, Wattles and native dogwoods and they plan to continue the rejuvenation program. Over 1000 indigenous trees shrubs and grundcovers have been planted along the roadside reserves around the vineyard with another 500 plants being planted this winter (2014)
4 years ago, a .5 ha Olive Grove was also planted.
The family wants to leave this site in better condition than they found it. Healthy soil, land and vineyards will be the Scorpo Wines legacy.