As chief viticulturist for Gemtree, Melissa’s ideas centre on the importance of sustainability. Being a staunch consumer and user of organic products, Melissa advocated that the removal of herbicides and many synthetic chemicals from the vineyard would produce better tasting fruit and ultimately lead to high quality wines.
Gemtree became fully certified organic in November 2011. Melissa follows a biodynamic regime and incorporating sheep into the management techniques is just one example of Melissa’s unique approach to viticulture and the focus on better outcomes for the environment.
Gemtree Vineyards has two vineyards. Tatachilla Road behind the township of McLaren Vale and the Gemtree Vineyard in the foothills near McLaren Flat.
Tatachilla Road Vineyard
In September 1980 Paul and Jill Buttery purchased their first vineyard on Tatachilla Road; a 38-acre vineyard comprising Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz with a limited supply of mains water.
In 1983 they sunk a bore which helped improve the vineyard. In 1987 and 1989, Paul and Jill bought adjoining parcels of land (15 acres & 10 acres) which were planted with Semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Over the years some of the original vineyard was grafted to Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The Sauvignon Blanc has since been converted back to Shiraz and in 2006 the Chardonnay was removed and replaced with three different clones of Shiraz. 2005 and 2006 saw some Cabernet Sauvignon grafted over to Savagnin.
In 2011, we commenced grafting Semillon to Cabernet Sauvignon and extensive reworking of our Old Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vines is continuing.
Having established a vineyard management business in the area called The Terraces, Paul was appointed to establish a new vineyard in the McLaren Flat region for the group Viticulture 2000 Trust set up by Brian McGuigan. This vineyard was dubbed ‘Gemtree’ and 96 acres of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir were planted in 1989.
In 1991, Paul and Jill purchased the Gemtree property and since then, have purchased adjoining parcels of land for the purpose of wine growing. Today Gemtree Vineyards in McLaren Flat comprises 275 acres under vine planted with Chardonnay, Verdelho, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Sangiovese.