Lucinda Estate – Leongatha

Out in the lush hills of South Gippsland, Lucinda Estate Winery is producing some seminal vintages and classic wines. It’s harvest time when we visit the estate, and owners Lucinda and Andrew Gromotka are carefully hand picking their grape for this season. Driving slowly up the long dusty driveway, the vineyard opened up around us to reveal over 6000 vines all ripe and ready for picking, the green farmland of Leongatha the perfect backdrop for this picturesque location. Lucinda and Andrew are busy. A vast quantity of grapes need to be picked in a relatively short period of time, and it’s a back breaking task all done by hand. Despite this, Lucinda extends a hand and warmly welcomed us.

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It’s a surprisingly warm day out on the hill the day we visit, and the vast quantity of work to be done is astounding. “We have quite a brief period to start picking the grapes before the birds eat all the grapes!” Lucinda and Andrew have been growing their own grapes and making their varieties of wine, which include Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. “We’re blessed with a really great vineyard site, with fantastic soils providing all the nutrients necessary for the production of grapes,” Lucinda explained.

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I ask her how the grape juice then is turned into wine, and I am given a thorough run down on the wine making process by Lucinda, who despite the heat and her busy schedule is kind, informative and passionate about sharing her wine making know how. The principle varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines means that the grapes have to be picked and sorted, the red wine grapes to be steeped and rested in their own skins to draw out the characteristic dark red colour of a Pinot Noir. Lucinda explained that most red wines derive their colour from the skins of the grapes, which means contact between the grape juice and the skins is essential for a quality product. Meanwhile, the white wine grapes are put straight into oak barrels to begin fermentation. “It depends on the desired taste and the type of wine you’re making, what kind of barrel you use and when you put the grapes in,” said Lucinda.

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Lucinda Estate is located on the edge of Leongatha in South Gippsland, where the climate is cool enough for a long ripening season, which allows for the development of complex and flavoursome grapes. Lucinda explained how the French concept of ‘Terrior’ in a vineyard plays an important roll in the success of a winery and the quality of wines produced. “Terroir describes the unique combinations of aromas, flavours and textures of a wine, that is dependent on the soil and the environment of the vineyard. The natural environment is very important.”

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There is a strong sense of pride and hard work out on the vineyard, and beneath the heat of the sun or the lashing South Gippsland rain, everyone does their bit to ensure that the grapes are picked and stored on time – from Andrew who is trundling around the property perched on top of his tractor, to the young Frenchman visiting the vineyard for the season to learn about Australian winemaking.

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Through the sweat and toil of this labourious existence, you can see it truly is passion that drives this local family business. While other regions have long been renowned for its wines and vineyards, Lucinda and Andrew are working hard to ensure that the Gippsland region gets the recognition and attention it deserves.

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